A little while back I made this post about using Tea Tree Oil as a homemade safe cleaner. I love its natural anti-bacterial qualities, and the pleasant scent it leaves behind on hard surfaces, but I later discovered a critical clause to its use that I absolutely must share with you all.
When I moved to my new place I was still going strong with my own homemade Tea Tree Oil cleaning product. In what I assumed was a completely unrelated realm, Emerson was occasionally throwing up. I tried changing her food, assuming it was something she was eating that was disagreeable with her stomach. Then one day I pulled out my bottle of cleaning solution and watched her flea, at break-neck speed, from the kitchen.
I thought about the timing of her little episodes of sickness, started to put two and two together and jumped online.
“Veterinary toxicologists have reported that large amounts of tea tree oil applied to the skin of cats and dogs caused poisoning.” – The National Capital Poison Center
“As little as 7 drops of 100% oil has resulted in severe poisoning, and applications of 10-20 mls of 100% oil have resulted in poisoning and death in both dogs and cats.” – The Pet Poison Helpline
Um WHAT!? In true cat mother fashion I burst into tears, totally overtaken by waves of guilt. I threw out the entire bottle and apologized to my poor little Em-cat Sweet Pea for all the times I was upset with her for puking on my rugs. Of course I wasn't applying any of the cleaner directly to her and the amount I use is SO INCREDIBLY DILLUTED she would have to drink the entire bottle directly to have done any real harm, but it was clearly irritating her none the less.
I am surprised that it didn’t bother her in my old apartment, but back then I had a small amount of hard surfaces to clean, and the cats were going in and out at their leisure. In my new place, there is no carpeting and, because of a lot of contributing factors, I made the decision to keep the kitties inside.
As for Lady’s strong constitution through all of this, I attribute her immunity to spending literally the majority of her time rolling in the wet sink and shower. She’s also markedly less curious than Emerson so she doesn’t nose around to investigate everything I do.
So this is a cautionary tale, and a pretty scary lesson I'm glad I learned quickly. I looked into it and could switch to mint as an essential oil for cleaning, but until I am 100% convinced I’m not doing anymore harm to my little four legged friends, I’ve been using Method. They don't test on animals or use animal by-products, and all of their products are deemed safe to use around household pets. I've had no complaints since making the switch, and I am feeling once again like a responsible pet owner, which is pretty important - especially if you've got a kitty as funny and sweet as Emerson.