Back in the 90s three purebred Angora cats were presented to a clinic in Oklahoma with severe flea infestations. They were shaved, and the flea bites were numerous, and open. Reading that tea tree oil could cure fleas when diluted in water and used as a dip, the clinic instead poured 120 ml of 100% pure tea tree oil directly onto the animals. WTF?? Bizarre decision.
As a result of this intense tea tree bath one cat died and all the cats started shaking uncontrollably and passing out. The effect of the tea tree - already way too much for human or beast - would have been compounded by the fact that felines are incapable of glucoronidization - so metabolize the tea tree components extremely slowly.
In addition, more recent research has proven that tea tree oil oxidises very quicky, especially if kept in a clear bottle and exposed to sunlight, and in its oxidised state is far more toxic than fresh oil. Tests on humans and animals have clearly shown that the oil, applied neat, is more than 3 times more toxic when oxidised (the oil tested was 9 months old).
SO all tea tree pet products have been tarred by an incident where tea tree oil was applied neat, in stupidly huge quantities, and could well have been oxidised. We dont use more than 2% tea tree oil in our formulations and its entirely safe, but its super frustrating to have the cat report quoted to me by people who need to update their research.
I am writing a paper with an exhaustive library of test reports and research on tea tree toxicity. Shall post here when done - but everything I read makes me more and more excited about what we can do to further exploit the health benefits of this incredible Australian bush medicine. And no animals will be harmed in the process!