Bug Spray Is Toxic to Cats

Creepy crawlies seem to dampen the joys of summer every year. This is especially true at night when you have to worry about things like mosquitoes. Most people will opt to use some kind of insect repellent be it spray, cream, or a saturated accessory. While using these things responsibly shouldn’t cause any harm, it is important to know that almost all bug sprays (and insect repellents) are very toxic to cats.

Safety First

Using these sprays, creams, and other items whilst outdoors is the safest method of use. You do not want any of the chemicals being accidentally sprayed, dripped, or dropped near your kitty. It is best to use these items at a fair distance away from wildlife as well so applying them on your deck, in your driveway, or in your garage is best.

Toxic Ingredients to Avoid

Below is a list of toxic ingredients you want to avoid altogether. These ingredients can cause severe and sometimes long-term ill effects to a cat. Be sure to read labels if you are purchasing products from a store.

  • Amitraz
  • Acephate
  • Carbofuran
  • Chlorpyrifos
  • Diazinon
  • Disulfoton
  • Fenoxycarb
  • Fonofos
  • Malathion
  • Methomyl
  • Parathion
  • Permethrin (don’t use around cats)
  • Propozur
  • Terbufos
  • Tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP)
List From PetCareRx

Natural Does Not Mean Safe!

A lot of pet lovers will opt for more natural inspect repellents which is a great idea in general but just because the label reads “natural” doesn’t mean it is safe. Many essential oils found in natural bug sprays and creams are mildly to severely toxic to cats. When looking for a more natural bug spray it is important to make sure it doesn’t include any of the essentials below. If it does, which most do contain at least one, it is best to only use this outdoors.

  • Teatree
  • Ylang ylang
  • Pine
  • Clove
  • Lemon
  • Lemongrass
  • Eucalyptus
  • Wintergreen
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Citronella
  • Sweet Birch

Bug Spray Alternatives

Here are a few ways to protect yourself outdoors without having to worry about accidentally poisoning your cat (or yourself!). All of these options are easy to use, easy to find, and relatively cheap.


If you want to use something that will be safe to use around your cat (and other pets) that actually works, look no further than lavender. Having potted lavender on your deck or patio is a great way to keep bugs away from your house. This works for mosquitoes, flies, moths, ticks, fleas, and even some spiders. To protect yourself on the go, mix some lavender essential oil in your favorite skin lotion or in a carrier oil like coconut, olive, or sesame and apply it to your skin. Never apply full strength lavender essential oil to the skin, it can cause irritation.

CAUTION! Do not apply lavender oil directly to your cat’s skin!

Lavender Oil
Click to buy on Amazon

Tiki Torches

If you spend a lot of time in your backyard in the summer or have a swimming pool, getting some tiki touches is a great idea. This will keep night time (and even daytime) insects away from you without having to apply anything directly to your skin or clothes.

Tiki torch
Click to buy on Amazon

Citronella Candles

Citronella candles work the same way tiki torches do by keeping the insects away from you. It masks the smell of things like carbon dioxide and lactic acid we produce. You can use these on your deck, porch, or by your pool, but you never want to use them indoors. The fumes can cause nervous system damage in cats.

Citronella Candles
Click to buy on Amazon

Bug Zapper

If you are not concerned with being completely humane to the insect population, investing in a bug zapper or two will do the trick. These are great for deck and porch areas you frequent at night. There are many different designs and sizes to choose from on the market so just go with whatever one is best for you. Be sure to check the reviews!

Bug Zapper
Click to buy on Amazon

More Great Cat Articles

We’ve written on a wide variety cat-related topics including natural health, best food and toys, video games and much more! Check out some of our favorites below:


Declawed: Peeing Outside the Litter Box

Common Questions About Cat Nipples

Can Cats Be Vegan or Vegetarian?

Signs of Food Allergies in Cats

12 Video Games for Cat Lovers

Leave a Reply

newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Walter Lesaulnier
Walter Lesaulnier

THANK YOU for the info of insecticides to avoid around cats. One note- bug zappers are useless with mosquitos…they are not attracted to UV light.