Is Vicks Safe For Cats? Here’s What You Should Know

Vicks is a brand name widely popular for its inhaled breathing treatments, cough medicines, and the ever-essential VapoRub. All of these are proven to provide relief for individuals with respiratory issues, but is Vicks safe for cats, too?

In general, any medications or treatments made for humans should never be used on animals. It’s a common premise, but it’s also important for pet owners to understand how it applies to Vicks products.

Is Vicks Safe For Cats

If you’re a fan of Vicks and using it around your cat, you must read the points I discussed here. This can be a lifesaver for your feline.

Why do many people use Vicks?

Almost all of us have used at least one Vicks product in our lives. From the relieving Formula 44, NyQuil, VapoSteam, and the all-time-favorite VapoRub – we all tried it.

Vicks made a name for itself by providing over-the-counter medications, which concentrate on camphor products. They are also reasonably priced, which appeals to buyers on a budget.

Overall, there’s no harm in using Vicks products. You don’t even need a doctor’s prescription to indulge yourself in their minty goodness.

However, the situation is different if you have cats. While Vicks products are enjoyable to you, they could be dangerous for felines.

Why do cats like the smell of Vicks?

If it’s dangerous for cats, how come my kitty likes the smell of Vicks?

Well, just because your cat like it doesn’t mean it’s good for him. After all, animals like cats don’t have the cognitive ability to identify what’s safe and not, which is why poisoning happens.

Why do cats like the smell of Vicks?

Experts say that cats are attracted to camphor products because the odor is somehow similar to that of catnip. Also, since Vicks has a strong fragrance, it’s normal for curious cats to check it out.

Still, you should never let your feline access or be exposed to Vicks products. It’s never a substitute for catnip and it doesn’t have the same component as the said herb.

Can I use Vicks products around my cat?

To answer this question, allow me to explain the ingredients of the famous Vicks VapoRub. This will help put the succeeding points in perspective.

According to its label, Vicks VapoRub is made of camphor, eucalyptus oil, and menthol. It’s also mixed with inactive ingredients like petrolatum, nutmeg oil, cedar leaf oil, turpentine oil, and thymol.

Most of these ingredients are also used in other topical and inhaled Vicks products like VapoSteam and VapoInhaler.

Here’s how these ingredients affect cats and dogs in general:

  • Camphor. According to the Pet Poison Helpline, camphor has a mild toxicity level for felines. Ingestion of this substance will lead to poisoning with symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, skin irritation, seizures, and even death if consumed in large amounts.
  • Eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus oil and its plant are deemed dangerous for cats when ingested according to the ASPCA. Felines that ingested or are heavily exposed to it will experience, salivation, weakness, diarrhea, and vomiting.
  • Menthol. Menthol is a chemical extracted from mint plants. Peppermint, for one, is known to be toxic to felines and can trigger stomach upset and liver damage if consumed in substantial amounts.

As for the inactive ingredients, pet owners should know that turpentine oil, nutmeg oil, and thymol can also trigger severe irritations in cats.

Overall, these are the reasons why Vicks VapoRub and similar products aren’t safe for cats. To be clear, it’s not safe to apply this product directly to your pet because the kitty will surely lick the treated area.

Also, if you’re using Vicks on your own skin, make sure that your cat won’t lick it. Even if it’s readily absorbed into the skin, Vicks products can still be dangerous for felines in any form of exposure.

Aside from that, you should never use VapoSteam or any mist Vicks products when your cat is around. This level of exposure can be life-threatening, especially for felines with sensitivity issues.

Is Vicks safe for cats

What happens if a cat licks my Vicks?

If your cat happened to lick your Vicks VapoRub and similar products, you should call the vet immediately. You should act right away, especially if you suspect that your kitty consumed a substantial amount.

When it comes to camphor poisoning, you shouldn’t wait for the symptoms to arise before you seek veterinary attention for your cat.

Here are the symptoms of camphor poisoning in cats:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Increased salivation
  • Nausea
  • Localized skin irritation (if topically exposed)
  • Seizures
  • Depression

If you notice these symptoms on your cat after it consumed Vicks, you should contact a veterinarian right away. If your cat’s vet isn’t readily available, you can contact a pet poison hotline instead.

You can contact the Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435. You can also reach your local animal control service or rescue shelter for assistance.

Can you put Vicks under a cat’s nose?

You should NEVER apply Vicks products to your pet. The camphor and eucalyptus oil content of these products can cause poisoning and even death in your feline.

Also, the minty sensation of Vicks products is irritating for kitties. This is aside from the suffocating smell when you applied it right on their noses.

If your cat has respiratory issues, Vicks products are not the solution. These medications are only meant for humans and should never, in any way, be used on pets.

You should consult your cat’s veterinarian for the best medication to treat its respiratory issues. Most of the time, your kitty needs to undergo tests to determine its real condition before the vet provides medications.

is Vicks safe for cats

Is there a decongestant for cats?

There are many decongestants for cats, but most of them are only available in prescription-based access. You should always consult the vet if you think that your feline needs such medications.

Aside from prescription decongestants, there are also over-the-counter solutions. These are intended to ease the symptoms of your cat and prevent its condition from worsening.

Nasal sprays are popular and can be purchased at any pet store. When in doubt, you can also ask your pet’s veterinarian if it’s safe to use and how to use it.

Aside from this, your feline’s vet can also suggest OTC medications like guaifenesin, Chlor-trimeton, and Benadryl. These are made to decongest clogged noses, but it’s not a treatment for whatever condition is triggering this symptom on your cat.

Is it safe for cats to inhale Vicks?

It’s unsafe for cats and dogs to inhale any Vicks products like VapoSteam. While it’s soothing for us, the camphor and menthol content of this substance can poison your pet.

If you’re bent to use Vicks, you should keep your cat out of the room. You should also aerate the area before you let your pet in to prevent potential exposure.

In case your cat inhaled Vicks and is exhibiting adverse symptoms, you should call the vet immediately.


Is Vicks safe for cats? Due to its ingredients, Vicks products are toxic to felines as well as other domesticated pets.

You should avoid any form of exposure, either accidental or intentional, to prevent putting your cat’s life at risk. And if you want to soothe your pet’s congested nose, you should call the veterinarian to know the proper medication.

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