Potpourri is a mixture of dried, aromatic flowers, leaves and spices.
It’s often used to scent the air in homes or hotels. But do we know anything about how it might affect cats?
While it’s lovely to have the fresh scents in a room, this might be a problem.
Does a Maine Coon get attracted by these scents, and if so is there any danger from the smell or ingestion.
Is potpourri a danger to your Maine Coon?
Maine Coons should never be left unattended with potpourri around. Sry potpourri can be irritating and presents a choking hazard if they try to ingest it. Liquid potpourri is more dangerous as it contains essential oils and cationic detergents, which are toxic to cats.
Most potpourri liquids contain natural or essential oils, which if ingested can cause vomiting, stomach upset, diarrhea, weakness, and possibly liver damage. Some products also contain cationic detergents, in which case the signs tend to be much worse.
It turns out that potpourri may pose risks to our feline friends, even though they likely wouldn’t show any signs of being poisoned by it.
The problem with potpourri is that it contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are quite poisonous to felines according to Dr. Bruce Williams from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.
This article takes a look at what research has shown so far on this topic and offers some guidelines for those who have cats as pets in their home.
The Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) has a good write up on the toxicity for cats if you care to take a look.
Potpourri is a pleasant mixture of dried, aromatic flowers, leaves and spices which are often used to scent the air in homes or hotels.
They’re available in many different forms including dry granules which can be sprinkled on surfaces or wadded up inside sachet bags by the manufacturers.
These fragrant mixes are occasionally added to homemade mixtures as well for an extra kick of fragrance in a space.
Many households will put a dish of potpourri out as well.
It’s thought to be decorative as well as pleasant smelling.
Potpourri is really a mixture of scented oils that come from natural aromatic plant sources.
These can come from the actual dried flowers as well as bundles or sticks of herbs which have been tied together and hung to dry.
Sometimes spices are added for extra fragrance and aroma, such as cinnamon, and cloves.
There is also a type of potpourri designed to be burned in specially carved bowls or pots called incense which can be rolled out into sticks or cones, known as joss sticks.
The main components of potpourri include:
Rose petals – Cedar wood chips – Cinnamon sticks – Other herbs such as basil, mint, oregano and other similar varieties which have pungent odors that tend to linger long after they’ve been exposed to air and heat sources like candles.
Well it turns out that potpourri can be pretty dangerous if you have a Maine Coon or other cats in the house, but not because of toxicity.
The main danger is from the fragrance and aromatic oils which can potentially attract your maine coon toward them, leading to ingestion problems according to Dr. John Tegzes who runs an emergency pet clinic in Sacramento California.
These potent scents may lead directly to ingestion problems with Maine Coons and cats alike as they try to get access to the scent through licking, chewing or even by trying to eat them up entirely according to veterinarians at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine Animal Poison Control Center .
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are at the heart of this poison problem as they evaporate up into the air where your Maine Coon will sniff them out or even smell them from a distance.
This can result in a Maine Coon walking into an area with potpourri and then licking themselves to get rid of that aroma from fine particulates attached to the fur.
Another concern is that Maine Coons can ingest potpourri as they sniff, lick or chew at the stuff.
Ingesting any dried plant material like potpourri leaves, mosses, bark or flowers can lead to bouts of vomiting and diarrhea which will cause dehydration according to Animal Planet Magazine.
This has been observed in dogs as well as other pet species, so it’s not just Maine Coon who are at risk in this regard.
Other signs of poisoning include lethargy, weakness, lack of appetite, shallow breathing and even tremors.
In mild cases your Maine Coon may look listless or droopy with labored movements while walking around.
There are varying manufacturers of potpourri who all use different source products.
The toxicity levels can vary quite a bit between brands.
Some chipping doesn’t break down easily so can present a choking hazard.
It turns out that you can have a potpourri as a liquid.
Liquid potpourri is far more toxic as it contains essential oils and cationic detergents.
Some liquids potpourris contain alcohol which is flammable so there’s the potential for fire if left unattended around candles or flames in general according to Animal Planet Magazine .
You need to make sure it’s kept away from heat sources and open flames even if no Maine Coons are nearby.
The cationic detergents can cause skin irritation, skin burns, ulcers, vomiting and diarrhea.
If your Maine Coon ingests potpourri from any capacity, seek emergency veterinary attention immediately .
Well you don’t have to.
But if you do, then it’s ideal if you keep your Maine Coon out of the room or space where they are stored at all times just as a precautionary measure.
If your Maine Coon is curious and adventurous, then this can be hard because their sight and sense of smell will be more than enough to lead them right into danger even if they just walk into the potpourri area without realizing it.
In the end, it’s up to you and your Maine Coon as to whether or not you’ll keep potpourri around.
I personally would prefer to just go with an aromatic candle which is less likely to lead to ingestion problems than a bowl of potpourri sitting on the coffee table as they can be knocked over easily or even thrown into the air during play time if your Maine Coon is that type of cat.
It’s not a problem if you’re wise enough to keep it all away from your Maine Coon, but for those who do have some in the house or living space then there are a few things that should be done.
Before any potpourri is brought into the Maine Coon’s home, then it should be stored out of reach so they can’t snoop around and find it.
Placing the potpourri in a place that can’t be reached by your cat will help immensely in keeping them safe.
Bowls of open potpourri in easy to reach places are what you are trying to avoid.
Try placing the potpourri in a small vessel with a small hole in it.
The odor can be released but the contents cannot be ingested.
Another thing you can do is to keep the Maine Coon out of that room as much as possible while at home or if they are going to spend time there then make sure they play with a toy so they don’t get distracted by sniffs and licks that lead them toward putting themselves into harm’s way.
If this isn’t enough then you can always turn up the air conditioning or heating system for a few minutes to flush out some of the volatile aromatic oils in favor of fresher, less dangerous smells.
Potpourri can be dangerous to your Maine Coon or any pet species for that matter.
Inhaling potpourri fumes from the air or licking it off fur can lead to vomiting and/or diarrhea, which in turn causes dehydration.
But if you keep potpourri away from your Maine Coon this potential danger can fade into nothingness while you enjoy a night of aromatherapy instead.
My main concern: Maine Coons are very curious cats and even more so than most pets.
They will investigate anything new in their territory and sniff the hell out of it.
If they find potpourri, they may chew on it because it’s a novel object to them.
There are a few essential oils that are known to be toxic to cats. These include, cinnamon oil, citrus, peppermint oil, pennyroyal oil, clove oil, eucalyptus oil, pine, sweet birch, wintergreen, ylang ylang, and tea tree oil.
The oils that are safe around your cat are lavender, copaiba, helichrysum, coconut, basil, easter lily cactus, fennel, hibiscus, jasmine, lemon balm, rose, sage, thyme, and frankincense. Diffused oils are usually a much lower concentration.
The risk from the cadle fire outweighs the scents that are embedded in the wax. Even a fairly dainty and dexterous Maine Coon can have an accident and knock a naked flame over. Never leave a naked flame unattended and alight with a cat in the house.
Maine Coon 101 | Read This Before Getting One