Candles And Cats – A Safe Combination Or Dangerous Duo?
In most homes, it’s likely you’ll find a candle or two and maybe a variety of scents as you go from room to room. Candles can be part of one’s morning routine to help set the ambiance for the day ahead. Imagine waking up, pouring a cup of coffee, and burning a sweet scent as you start your morning tasks. Sounds nice, right?
Another common addition to households is, you guessed it, cats!
These frisky, mischievous, furr babies of the house get up at the crack of dawn purring for food. They politely demand your attention as the morning starts, adding another step in your routine: coffee, candle, then cat.
But, have you ever stopped to wonder as you light those wicks if the candle you’ve chosen today is actually safe for your feline?
Are Candles Bad For Cats?
The answer to this question is not simply answered with a yes or no because there are many factors to consider when purchasing a candle that will not harm your cat.
Consider Where Your Candle Is Placed
Cats are curious animals who love to climb and jump on every surface in your home, whether they fit or not.
While you should never leave an open flame unattended, you can’t predict where your cat will pounce next, so you want to be careful about where you place your candles so your cat doesn’t touch or snag them as they walk by. This could potentially save you from hazardous situations.
Burn Hazards & Wax Spillage
Anything flammable is a potential burn hazard, and candles have an added bonus when they’ve been melting for hours, leaving their container filled with hot wax.
Cats have a tendency to knock things over, and candles are no exception. If this unfortunate incident were to occur, your cat could burn itself on the flame or in the wax, even increasing the possibility of a house fire.
If your cat’s tail were to accidentally flip into some candle wax, the risk is not only to their fluffy fur, but also to their skin. Cats have very sensitive skin, especially to fragrant chemicals found in candles.
If your cat is exposed to wax spillage anywhere on their body, the result could be a severe reaction, damaging the outer layers of the skin and leaving you and your fur baby at the vet until further notice.
Consider What Type of Wax Your Candle Is Made From
With so many types of candles on the market, you have options when you’re looking for a safe candle for your cat. Whether you’re candle shopping just for fun or hosting a holiday event, we’ve pointed out the waxes that are a thumbs-up or thumbs-down for your feline below.
Candles are made with many different wax bases, but the main culprit to avoid when searching for a safe-for-your-cat candle option is paraffin wax. Paraffin is low in quality, mass-produced, and made from petroleum.
There have been several studies showing the potentially harmful effects of burning paraffin candles on humans and pets. This is because these types of candles can produce toxic fumes and dangerous chemicals that we breathe in the air once they’re lit. When it comes to safe candles for you and your cat, paraffin candles are not one of them.
Note that whilst these studies are not conclusive – and yes, paraffin wax is generally considered safe – we’d recommend trying other wax alternatives if you have any doubts.
When you want to find a candle that you can burn around your cat with limited worry, you should keep an eye out for one made from organic wax. This is a safer option for both you and your pet, because unlike paraffin, organic wax is made without toxins that emit chemicals in the air while they burn.
These organic wax candles are made from materials like soy or beeswax. Both options are environmentally friendly choices because they are completely biodegradable and the fragrance you’ll find with beeswax and soy candles are natural, fresh, and light scents that you and your cat will both enjoy.
Scented Candles & Cats
Speaking of scents, this brings us to our next area of candle questioning, are candles with fragrance safe for your furry feline?
Scented Vs Unscented
Overall, scented candles are generally safe for your cat, but you want to avoid overpowering smells. Cats experience smells more intensely than humans, and surprisingly have a strong dislike for many popular candle scents such as citrus, eucalyptus, and rosemary.
While you can avoid those scents when buying a candle, going with an unscented choice is still a great option when you want to add a nice ambiance for your evening, without the added fragrance and without questioning your cat’s comfort level.
Essential Oil Candles
Essential oil candles, also known as aromatherapy candles, are different from your fireside or pink sugar-scented options because they are made only with pure essential oils. Inhaling natural oils can have a soothing, therapeutic effect on humans, but unfortunately, your cat could feel the exact opposite.
Even though this candle is made from organic wax, a typical thumbs-up option, it can still cause an adverse reaction depending on the type of essential oil you’ve selected. Toxic essential oils to cats contain phenol such as wintergreen, peppermint, citrus, pine, tea tree, eucalyptus, cinnamon, pennyroyal, sweet birch, clove, and ylang ylang.
If you notice your cat has dipped a paw into the candle pool of essential oils, head to the vet right away to make sure your little guy hasn’t ingested it while grooming.
Are Lavender-Scented Candles Safe For Cats?
Generally, cats find the scent of lavender unappealing to say the least. This natural deterrent can irritate their nasal passages and olfactory systems, making them feel uncomfortable and lethargic.
Lavender contains compounds that are toxic to cats such as linalool and linalyl acetate. It’s possible that because cats have such a sensitive nose compared to humans, they can detect that this scent could potentially harm them, so cats will typically avoid the fragrance.
However, burning a lavender candle will give your cat no choice but to notice it as it wafts through the house. If you see signs of discomfort from your feline friend, chuck it in the trash and choose a safer alternative.
How Can You Tell If Your Cat Is Sensitive To A Scented Candle?
If you decide to buy a scented candle and want to be sure your cat is okay, check for these signs as you monitor your open flame and furry friend:
- They’re rapidly sneezing
- They start to cough, wheeze, or pant
- You notice excessive itching
- They have skin rashes or redness
- Their eyes appear watery
- Their nose is dripping
To avoid kitty asthma, allergies, or even bronchitis, be conscious about the scents you choose if you’re burning a fragrance-filled candle.
Cat Safe Candle Alternatives
If you’d rather skip the research and find an alternative to candles that are safe for your cat, we’ve put together a list of products to choose from:
Pet Odor Eliminators
When you smell pet odor and decide to light a candle to mask it, the smell is still there once the candle is burned out. Choosing an odor eliminator could be the long-term, safe solution you’ve been looking for. Long and short-haired cats can attract lingering smells from their litter box, which is why using an odor eliminator with enzymes is a gentle option that will get the job done.
Some candle waxes such as beeswax have natural air purifying properties, but if you’d rather avoid the flame they require, choose an air purifier instead. They’ll do a great job at removing air particles that can cause asthma or allergies while also getting rid of pet odors, so you’ll notice those strange scents from your cat a little less frequently.
Flameless candles are simply for cat owners who enjoy the ambiance of a candle without the risk. If you crave the flicker of a candle on the coffee table or on the bookshelf while you read, flameless candles are the perfect alternative. Easy to find and easier to use, flick the switch from off to on and you have a safe-for-cats-candle.
We’ve talked about this previously, but organic candles are the way to go if you have pets. Essentially, you want a candle with the least amount of processing and additives possible. This will minimize any potentially irritant chemicals being released, making it better for you and your cat. 100% beeswax candles is a great option for this.
When lighting candles around the house, always consider where you put them to make sure your cat’s whiskers and tail tip are safe from flames and hot wax.
Keep in mind as you shop that organic waxes are the better choice when compared to paraffin-based candles for your own health, but also for your cat’s health too.
All scents are not created equal when purchasing a scented candle to pair with your bubble bath. Your cat may have a genuine distaste for your choice, but could also have a genuinely bad reaction if you choose an essential oil that’s potentially toxic for them.
And finally, candle alternatives could be a great purchase for you and your four-legged family members, posing little to no risk and very low maintenance.