Does a Peppermint Scent Affect Cats?

Peppermint oils can be found in many home goods, from candles to potpourri to essential oil kits.

Peppermint oils can be found in many home goods, from candles to potpourri to essential oil kits.

Cats like catmint or catnip, so perhaps they'll enjoy the scent of peppermint, too. While it's a logical assumption, peppermint bothers cats and poses a significant health risk, so vets recommend against it. Veterinary care for cats that inhale or ingest peppermint is expensive and time consuming.

When Cats Sniff Peppermint

That minty fresh smell that makes you feel clean and tingly won't have the same pleasant effects on your feline friends. Cats' nervous systems are especially sensitive to peppermint oil, such as an essential oil. If your kitty gets a nose of mint oil, she could contract aspiration pneumonia. Symptoms include fever, fast or labored breathing and a rapid heart rate. Sometimes cats cough up or sneeze out droplets of the inhalant that caused pneumonia, such as mint oil.

Additional Peppermint Problems

If your kitty accidentally ingests something with peppermint, she'll certainly be bothered. Cats may get upset stomachs, liver damage or experience central nervous system problems. Signs of the latter include drooling and loss of appetite. Even putting peppermint essential oil on your pet can be dangerous: one drop of essential oil made a cat so lethargic and unresponsive that her owner sought emergency veterinary attention, aromatherapist Kristen Leigh Bell warns.


Take care when introducing scented products into your home. The ASPCA notes that many reed diffuser kits contain essential oils that can cause gastrointestinal and central nervous system problems. Even if you are certain the scent contains no mint, it still may not be safe for your pet.

What to Do

The ASPCA suggests you avoid using peppermint products in areas of the home your cat can access to avoid accidental ingestion or inhalation of peppermint. If you notice your cat appears lethargic or unresponsive and you find evidence that she ingested or inhaled mint, take your pet to the vet immediately.

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  • ASPCA: Peppermint Oil
  • Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals: A Comprehensive Guide to Using Essential Oils and Hydrosols with Dogs, Cats, Horses and Other Animals; Kristen Leigh Bell; 2002
  • The Merck/Merial Manual For Pet Health: The Complete Health Resource for Your Dog, Cat, Horse or Other Pets - in Everyday Language; Scott Line and Cynthia M Kahn; 2007
  • ASPCA: Reed Diffusers
  • ASPCA: Potpourri Hazards in Cats

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