Cat Health

Palo Santo Toxicity in Cats: Risks and Safety Measures

What other better way can you relax on chill evenings or during the weekends after a stressful day at work? Aromatherapy!

Using Palo Santo’s incense, candles, or diffuser oil helps reduce tension. Although excellent for people, santo is bad for cats. The wood is not dangerous if nibbled, but the essential oil includes D-limonene, which is hazardous to cats. Also, incense or burned palo santo poses the threat of respiratory dysfunction and cancer. We have carefully compounded everything you need to know about palo santo toxicity in cats. Let’s go…

What is Palo Santo?

Palo Santo, a Spanish word for Holy Wood, is a mystical tree native to South America. It has been used for centuries as a spiritual remedy for purifying and cleansing and to promote feelings of positivity and well-being. This fragrant wood has recently become popular in the US and Europe for its purported healing properties.

Palo Santo is a type of tree found in the dry tropical forests of South America, primarily in Peru, Ecuador, and Bolivia. It belongs to the same family as frankincense and myrrh trees and can reach up to 15 feet in height. The wood of the Palo Santo tree is highly valued for its fragrant aroma and is used to make incense, jewelry, and other items.

When burned, Palo Santo releases a pleasant, sweet aroma similar to that of pine, citrus, and mint. This aroma can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. It is said to clear negative energy, promote calmness and relaxation, and bring luck and protection. Burning Palo Santo can also help to reduce headaches, boost immunity, and even reduce asthma symptoms.

Palo Santo can be used to make incense, essential oils, and home fragrances. It can be purchased in various forms, such as sticks, chips, and powder, and is used to create incense sticks, cones, and other items. Palo Santo essential oil is often used in aromatherapy and is said to reduce stress, calm the mind, and promote positive energy. The wood is also said to have anti-inflammatory properties and is believed to be beneficial for skin ailments.

Palo Santo Toxicity in Cats

Is Palo Santo Safe For cats?

There is no record of a cat being poisoned by Palo santo, and most research focuses on household plants, but it may contain cat-toxic compounds. Incense and essential oil made from palo santo contain D-Limonene, which may affect your cat’s respiratory and overall health. Here are some reasons palo santo may be toxic to cats.

Contains D-limonene

D-limonene is a versatile naturally occurring compound found in most citrus fruit peels. Known for its anti-inflammatory agents and its ability to prevent the growth of microorganisms, D-limonene is commonly used for hand sanitizers and shampoo.

D-limonene is the same compound found in lemon and its derivatives such as lemon pepper tuna that leads to severe drooling, lethargy, loss of coordination, tremors, and irritation of the gum, mouth, and intestinal tract, in some cases, it will lead to death. This is one of the reasons Palo Santo is considered toxic to cats.

Palo Santo Essential oil

Essential oils have a pleasant scent, lower stress levels, treat fungus infections, and promote sleep. They are concentrated plant extractions.

The plant essence transforms into a liquid via distillation for various uses. It’s absorbed via skin or ingestion.

Few oils like lavender, copaiba, frankincense, and helichrysum are cat-safe. Most others pose risks due to high phenol levels, causing issues in cats.

Phenolic compounds in some oils can induce drooling, low heart rate, and liver failure in cats due to a lack of glucuronyltransferase. So, avoid making use of the unsafe (if possible all) essential oils around your cat.

Is Palo Santo Smoke Safe For Cats

Palo Santo stimulates pets like catnip, but residues left after burning the wood or incense could be licked by your cat. So, burn palo santo in a small area and keep your cat’s food and water bowl away.

Smoking increases the risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma, an aggressive mouth cancer in cats, because they eat smoke particles that land on their fur while grooming.

We also have the risk of feline asthma. This is why Palo Santo smoke is not safe for cats.

Palo Santo Toxicity in Cats

Is Palo Santo Spray Safe For Cats

Moderate palo santo spray use is safe for cats. Palo santo essential oil helps reduce tension and repel fleas and other insects. Remember that cats are sensitive to essential oils, so spray palo santo carefully around them.

Palo santo should be introduced to cats slowly. First spray a tiny amount and gradually increase it if cats are afraid of the aroma. Spray a gentle mist, not your cat’s fur. If your cat sneezes, coughs, or grooms excessively, stop using the spray and consult a vet.

Santo palo can be used in numerous ways around cats. You can put a few drops of palo santo oil on a cotton ball and put it near your cat’s bed or favorite spot. This can help them relax. You can also put a few drops of palo santo oil in a diffuser in a room where your cat spends a lot of time.

 Is Palo Santo Toxic To Cats? – Final Thoughts

Palo santo is safe for cats when used sparingly, but regular and large doses can cause liver failure, cancer, and all symptoms of toxicity, so avoid using it around cats.

Other safe essential oils like lavender can replace Palo Santo around your cat, or use it in areas your cat can’t reach.


I am Joshua kaynard, an avid cat lover. Our pets provide an excellent way of connecting with nature; I am committed to helping you understand all the aspects of your feline friend's life. Enjoy!

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