Are perfumes toxic to cats?

Are perfumes toxic to cats?
Are perfumes toxic to cats? Image: MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

More work is need by appropriately qualified scientists and veterinarians to answer the question in the title properly as there is a scarcity on information on this. But there is some available information on the internet and the general conclusion is that perfume can be toxic to cats. Certain perfumes containing allergens may cause asthma in some domestic cats. For instance, Dr. Crista DeJoia, HOV Staff Veterinarian says:

The incidence of feline allergic airway disease has increased steadily since the 1970s, probably due in large part to the increased manufacture and use of scented products.

Dr. DeJoia

And various kinds of phenols are used in fragrances as antioxidants and preservatives; for example, eugenol. I wrote an article about the toxicity of phenol to cats a little while ago.

Phenols can be toxic to domestic cats.

And the website ( that lists phenol as a potential ingredient of some perfumes says that, “phenol has been thoroughly evaluated and is commonly used in fragrances”. They add that, “this ingredient is one of the substances required by the state of California to be disclosed on ingredient listings and has a potential connection to serious health effects.”

The website, which I understand is at least partly written by veterinarians, states that “cats are susceptible to organ damage from exposure to oils including perfumes. The feline liver has a tough time breaking down the toxins known as phenols. This can result in deadly build up if poisoned cats are not given immediate medical attention.”

A certified neuropath, Md. Minhajul Alam, says that there are many chemicals in perfumes. In fact, he says that there are 3000 different compounds! There are some dangerous chemicals in perfumes such as synthetic musks, phthalates, methylene chloride, methyl chloride, styrene, dioxane, titanium dioxide, resorcinol, propyl paraben, formaldehyde to name some. There is a long list! To humans, there is a potential wide range of varying adverse effects he says. These include asthma, lung disease and other breathing difficulties. There are other possible health problems.

Can perfumes cause health problems in people? To that question he states that, “Mass-produced perfumes may contain synthetic chemicals that are hazardous to human health and exposure which may lead to a range of health problems including allergies, lung disease, organ damage and even cancer.”

If perfumes can do that the people then obviously they might damage the health of domestic cats. I don’t know how serious this danger is or how toxic some perfumes can be to domestic cats.

We know that scented candles, air fresheners and other commercially produced fragrances used around the home can be toxic to cats. This has been well discussed and I have many articles on compounds and products that are actually or potentially toxic to cats which you can access by clicking on the links below.


I have to keep this post quite short because there simply isn’t enough information available to make the page comprehensive. This raises another issue: there should be good research available to the public written in plain English on the potential toxicity of perfume to cats. That said I get a clear sense that there is potential for harm to be caused by perfumes. I think they should be used with caution around cats.

For example, when they are applied to a cat owner and the spray goes into the air. If a cat is nearby at that time, it may make the cat sick and it may cause issues such as dermatitis and respiratory stress.

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