Are Scented Candles Toxic To Cats? Find Out Here!

Updated on June 13, 2021

With sensitive noses and a keen sense of smell, introducing scented candles to a home filled with pets can be a cause of concern for some aromatherapy enjoyers. 

Are Scented Candles Toxic To Cats?

Are scented candles toxic to cats? While very cheap and unscented candles are dangerous all around, scented candles can be irritating. Although they are rarely fatally toxic. 

A number of ways to introduce pleasant aromas to your home can be problematic for pets. This includes liquid potpourri, air purifiers, and aerosol air fresheners. 

For cats in particular, they can be more sensitive to these different scented varieties than even dogs. Most commonly resulting in minor stomach upsets and a runny nose. 

Both natural plant oils and synthetic additives can cause eye burns and other difficulties for pet owners. For example, cationic detergents in liquid potpourri. 

Not only can these detergents (which are essential to the manufacturing process) cause eye burns, but also form intestinal ulcers in a cat's stomach!

However, liquid potpourri is not nearly as popular as candles when it comes to releasing pleasant odors in the home, and for good reason. 

So let's look at how fragranced candles can affect a cat, how to avoid unnecessary harm, and even what pleasant scents exist for your cat themselves as a treat!

Table of Contents

Why Are Cats Sensitive to Smells?

A feline's keen sense of smell is its primary advantage on the hunt. Thus exposure to scents that are harmful or particularly strong can be dangerous. 

Harmless candles exist of course, although cheaper, paraffin based candles can be an issue. Artificial additives can be a pain for your cat's nostrils. 

On top of this, natural ingredients can also be problematic. Fatty oils pressed from organic sources can still tickle your cat's nose, and hurt their eyes with perfume. 

A bit of trial and error may also reveal that your cat has allergies. That's right! Your cat might have a perfume, soap, or fragrance oil allergy. 

If you want a house to smell nice however, then you may need candles in order to mask a number of unpleasant smells left by cats. 

Although cats groom themselves regularly, indoor cats and litter boxes will leave a lingering smell in whatever room the litter box is located. 

Subtler scents are unlikely to properly cover these foul smells up, leaving nasty smells in the air throughout the room and carrying through your house.

Various scented products can be used, but not all are appropriate for pet owners and their feline companions. Especially liquid potpourri products, but candles as well. 

Furthermore, we made an article that you might be interested if Is Incense Bad For Cats or not.

Synthetic and Artificial Scents in Candles

Most of the ingredients used to create a candle's scent are usually cheaper and less natural than those used in aromatherapy.

The base oils used in candles are usually more concentrated and include additional ingredients such as resins, gums, and coumarin.

While the health benefits of using natural components in a candle scent are minimal, using synthetic or artificial ingredients is even less effective.

Cheap store bought varieties of candles will typically use synthetic scenting, as this is cheaper during the manufacturing process. 

Are Natural Oils Safe for Cats?

Many scented products aim to be natural and organic, and this makes a lot of sense from a business model perspective. 

Aromatherapy is very popular among those who enjoy alternative medicines and diets, including a vegetarian or vegan diet. 

The crossover between plant based eating and pet ownership is surprisingly high, so taking care about what is in the products you use is a key concern for many candle consumers. 

As such, natural waxes like beeswax, natural scents like plant oil, and eco-friendly wicks such as wooden varieties are all increasingly present in fragrant candles. 

However, being natural doesn't make something healthy. Especially for cats with their smaller frames and sensitive noses. 

Some scents which aren't dangerous can still irritate a cat, such as lemon and lime scents. These are often quite strong smells for a cat's nose to handle. 

Although not damaging, having your cat meow and get upset over a smell is also common. So unless you like putting up with that noise, avoid citrus smells. 

Are Natural Oils Safe for Cats?

Edible Dangers of Scented Candles and Cats

While citrus scents can put a cat off getting too close to a candle during scent therapy, others can actually have the opposite effect. 

Cats, much like humans, have scent preferences. Especially scents that remind them of food, making them similar to mice as well. 

A particular scent in incense can upset one cat, but cause another one to get close and try to eat the burning stick. This also happens in candles. 

Obviously eating candle wax isn't going to do your cat any good. It's not some crazy alternative medicine hack that the internet is yet to catch onto.

No, in fact, the additive chemicals from paraffin candle manufacturers make it extremely dangerous to ingest. Let alone if the candle is lit as well!

To avoid this, we suggest using flameless candles. If your cat continues to try and eat paraffin candles, then switch to a reed diffuser or air purifiers instead.

The concentration of ingredients found in paraffin varieties will lead to a very upset stomach indeed. Cats might be smart, but they can also be quite stupid. 

Another way to get an upset stomach would be to try and drink melted wax, with the same ingredient list. More than likely burning their tongue in the process. 

Burn Risks of Open Flame Candles

Flameless candles are also great for avoiding burn and fire risks as well since cats are notorious for pushing objects off ledges and tables. 

Candle smoke can also clog up a cat's nose, either making it difficult for them to breath or causing them to drip mucus everywhere around the home. 

"Cleaner burning" candles try to avoid thick, black smoke but in general smoke inhalation is bad no matter what. 

Cats may have stronger noses than us, but this only applies to their sense of smell. They are still just as fragile as humans when it comes to their biology. 

Aerosols and Felines

When it comes to outstanding products to make your house smell nice despite a cat, there are a number of pet odor products designed for this exact purpose. 

Any routine fabric freshener product can remove the lingering smell of a cat from a sofa or couch, as well as blankets and duvets. 

Some scent laced products exist for litter boxes as well, both in aerosol and pellet form. These aim to cover up the more intense bad smells.

When using aerosols however, it is important your cat is not immediately present. Mainly because they are artificial and synthetic scents usually. 

Often they can be bad for sensitive skin, on both humans and felines. Direct skin contact can lead to mild skin irritation, all thanks to fragranced products. 

Asthma in cats is also a thing to look out for. Cat asthma is no joke and constant exposure to aerosols can lead to asthma attacks in your furry friend. 

Cats with asthma also suffer nose irritation more often, and smoke from candles can really harm their respiratory systems.  

Safe Smells for Cats

The best way to mask unwanted smells in your home without overpowering your cat's nose is a very simple measure. Just use a simple air purifier.

This handy little device can clean up the air around you, helping to eliminate odors in the process much like an air freshener might.

However, it does this without the need for aerosols, and the compact convenience of desktop purifiers makes them ideal for homes with little space.

You can also boil plant matter like herbs or fruits. This method naturally releases oils from the natural substances, making the organic compounds a very natural way to scent the home.

Smells Aimed at Cats

If you're not trying to mask the mildew smell from heat or humid temperatures, you can actually get some cat marketed scents for your feline as a treat.

The most common of these, of course, is cat nip. A favorite among cat owners as it drives their pets loopy with joy. 

However, getting a candle for your cat is still a dangerous thing, and you must ensure it remains in a place that the cat can't reach.

Otherwise, it may push your candle to the floor, posing a fire risk, broken glass, and all around making a very dangerous mess for you to try and clean up. 

We also made an article about Are Scented Candles Bad For Dogs? Check this out!

How to Keep Cats Safe From Toxic Scents

Many people unknowingly create dangerous situations for their cats by neglecting common cat safety measures. One of these measures is to keep scents in check.

Cats are extremely sensitive to certain smells; this is especially true of neutered males and females.

How to Keep Cats Safe From Toxic Scents

People should take care not to let scents linger in the home since cats get home after we do and may leave messes. This makes air fresheners very valuable.

Clearly, taking these measures will make life much happier for both the cat and the human members of the feline's home environment.

Moreover, Find out more here Are Scented Candles Bad?

Smell is one of the human senses which can flow through the whole body. I am the Founder of where we talk all about scented candles. Known as Candace the Candle Girl, I know pretty much all there is to know about scented candles. I make and sell them on Etsy and Ebay - so be sure to ask if you have any burning questions :) (pun intended ;) )

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