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Are Candles Bad for Cats? (And What to Use Instead)

Are Candles Bad for Cats? (And What to Use Instead)

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So many people like to keep candles in their homes. Candles can be used for practical reasons such as when the power goes out.

Aside from emergency candles, people enjoy lighting scented candles when they want to relax. You can buy candles that smell really nice that you can use when you want to unwind for the day.

If you also have cats in your home, you might be concerned about using candles. Are candles bad for cats?

Keep reading to learn about whether using candles is safe when you have cats. This should help you to understand the best course of action.

It Depends on the Types of Candles You’re Using

Not all candles are bad for cats. It comes down to the types of candles that you’re using in your home.

There are cheap candles that are toxic that are sold in stores. Paraffin-based candles are known to be toxic to both humans and cats.

If you’re using such candles in an environment that doesn’t have good ventilation, it’ll be bad for your health. It’ll also have the potential to make your cats sick.

Perhaps you’ve heard about candles being bad for cats in the past. When people talk about such things, they’re really referring to paraffin-based candles.

You should ensure that you never buy these types of candles again. It might even be better to throw out any candles that are made using paraffin that you still have in your home.

Why are these paraffin candles so harmful, though? Below, you’ll learn a bit more about why they’re bad for humans, cats, and other living things.

Why Paraffin Candles Are Bad

Simply put, paraffin candles are going to irritate you in many ways. When you burn these candles, they’re going to release toxic fumes that will cause you to experience many negative things.

First, you should know that the fumes will agitate your lungs. As these candles burn, they release soot as well as toxic fumes.

The fumes contain harmful chemicals such as hexadecane, penta-decane, tetra-decane, naphthalene, toluene, and benzene. These chemicals are associated with many health issues.

Most notably, they can cause people to experience asthma. They can also make some people experience allergic reactions.

It’s also possible for paraffin candles to irritate your skin. When paraffin candles burn, the fumes in the air will also come into contact with your skin.

When this occurs, it might cause you to start feeling itchy. The itchiness caused by paraffin candles is known to be very annoying.

In some cases, people will experience more severe dermatological issues. It’s another reason why you shouldn’t burn these candles in your home.

The problems mentioned above will impact people. These candles will also be bad for your cats.

Some Candles Are Safer

Some candles are going to be much safer for you and your cats. Many of the best scented candles on the market are going to be just fine to use.

You can usually get information about what was used to make candles. Sometimes this information will be visible right on the package.

If you’re buying candles online, you can look at the product description to try to get the information that you’re seeking. Simply buy candles that don’t contain paraffin and you won’t have to worry about toxic fumes.

Even when you’re using scented candles, it’s recommended to only burn candles in an area that is properly ventilated. It helps you to avoid many problems.

It can be fun to use scented candles as a way to relax. It’s fine to do this even when you have a cat, but you should be careful while using the candles.

You probably shouldn’t leave candles burning when you’re not in the room. It’s also best to put them in places that your cats won’t be able to easily reach.

You Don’t Want Your Cat to Get Burned

Of course, you don’t want your fluffy friend to get burned by the candles that you’re using. Cats are naturally curious and they sometimes do things that aren’t wise.

A cat might attempt to touch a candle while it’s burning. It could also knock the candle over if it gets too close to it.

This can be problematic for a number of different reasons. Firstly, you should know that the cat might get hurt if it comes into contact with the flame.

Also, the cat could be harmed by hot wax. You must keep your cats away from candles when you’re using them.

This is why it’s so imperative to put candles in safe spots. Try to pick a spot for your candle that the cat can’t get to.

Another thing to consider is that if one of your pets knocks the candle over, it could start a fire. You certainly don’t want your house to burn down because you didn’t use candles safely.

Do your best to make good choices to avoid such situations. It shouldn’t be too difficult to use candles even when you have cats so long as you keep your wits about you.

Problems with Essential Oils

Some types of candles contain essential oils. It’s common for people to use essential oils for many different purposes.

You might like candles that contain essential oils quite a bit. They might not be very good for your cats, though.

Essential oils have been known to cause negative reactions to pets that come into contact with them. This includes cats as well as other common household pets.

Some types of essential oils are toxic to cats. Others are less toxic, but cats are more sensitive to essential oils than humans are as a general rule.

Whether your cat will be allergic to the essential oils that are in the candle that you’re using will depend. Essential oils come from plants, and if the plants that are used to make the oils are bad for cats, the candle will also be bad for cats.

This means that you should check each candle individually to see if the essential oils that are used will be bad for cats. It will require a bit more effort than simply buying a candle that you think smells nice.

You should also know that using essential oils around cats will pretty much always be a bad thing. If you want to make things better for the cats, you should dilute the essential oils.

This won’t be possible when you’re using essential oils in candle form. Essential oils might cause cats to have problems breathing.

It can also make cats experience itchy eyes, nose problems, and other issues. You might need to avoid candles that utilize essential oils altogether to be on the safe side.

Cats Are Sensitive to Fragrances

Cats are very sensitive to fragrances. Some cats are so sensitive that they won’t like any scented products at all.

Aside from candles, cats are known to dislike it when humans use scented sprays. Citrus, in particular, seems to bother cats a lot.

That isn’t the only scent that bothers cats, though. Many cats will respond negatively when you use scented sprays or cleaners.

The same thing happens when you use various types of candles. Some cats really won’t like it when you fill the air with fragrances.

Of course, there are cats that seem less bothered by scents than others. Some cats are able to tolerate scented candles while others will act very bothered by them.

If you have a cat that seems to dislike scented candles, you might want to avoid using them. Otherwise, you could use the scented candles in rooms that your cat doesn’t have access to.

For example, you could use scented candles only in the bathroom. Most bathrooms are ventilated well to avoid issues with mold anyway.

This should give you a chance to unwind and enjoy your scented candles away from your pets. Plus, it can be nice to spend a bit of time by yourself without being bothered by your pets.

Even if you love your pets, it’s likely that you need a break now and then. Perhaps your candle enjoyment time can be a good excuse to get away from them every so often.

What Scented Products Should You Avoid Using Around Cats?

You’ve learned that cats are sensitive to scented products. As such, you’re going to want to avoid using them near the cats.

Aside from candles, there are several other popular scented products out there. Many of these will irritate your cats to no end.

If you love your cats and want them to feel comfortable, you shouldn’t use these things in your home. At the very least, you’ll want to avoid using them near the cats.

Dry Potpourri

Dry potpourri is a popular way to make any room smell nicer. Potpourri has a very strong scent that will cover up bad smells.

Some people like to leave bowls of dry potpourri on their coffee tables. Others will position dry potpourri strategically around the house.

Pets won’t like the smell of dry potpourri at all. Cats will likely have irritated nostrils if you use it near them.

Also, some cats might eat the potpourri. When this occurs, it can block the cat’s digestive system.

Fixing this issue might require the cat to have surgery. You want to avoid putting your pet in this position, and you also don’t want the expensive vet bills.

Liquid Potpourri

Liquid potpourri isn’t going to be any better for cats. In fact, it’s even more dangerous for them.

These products generally contain essential oils that are bad for cats. They also utilize cationic detergents that help oil and water to mix.

The cationic detergents in the liquid potpourri can cause cats many health problems. They’ve been known to give cats intestinal ulcers, breathing problems, neurological issues, and more.

It’s safest to avoid using liquid potpourri of any kind in your home when you have pets. Even if you like the way it smells, it simply isn’t worth the risk.


Incense can make your house smell really good. Sadly, burning incense will be bad for your cat.

The incense that you’re burning is a combination of essential oils and smoke. Both of these things will be bad for your cats.

It has the potential to make cats experience respiratory issues. Your cat might have problems breathing if you burn incense while it’s in the room.

If you choose to use incense, you should do it away from your cat. You’ll also need to do it in a well-ventilated room.

Air Fresheners

Even standard air fresheners might upset your cats. Air fresheners are designed to mask smells, but they don’t eliminate them.

Sometimes these air fresheners will cause asthmatic reactions in cats. Actually, this can happen to some humans as well.

You should not use air fresheners in your home when you have pets. There’s too much potential for things to go wrong.

Plus, there are better ways to get rid of bad smells. Simply airing the house out will be a better and safer choice.

What’s Safe to Use?

So what can you use to make your house smell better? Odor-neutralizing sprays will work without harming your cats.

These sprays do a great job of eliminating odors. They can even get rid of strong pet smells.

Air purifiers can work fine as well. Many people keep air purifiers in certain rooms to protect from pet odors and other smells.

Burning organic wax candles should be fine so long as you use them responsibly. Keep the dangers in mind and don’t let your cats get near the candles.

You can also hang charcoal in bags around the house to eliminate odors. Charcoal does a surprisingly excellent job absorbing odors and keeping your house smelling fresh and nice.

Final Thoughts

Doing your best to keep your cat safe is the right thing to do. You can use candles when you have cats, but you need to avoid using certain types of candles.

Some scented candles might be fine so long as they don’t contain essential oils. There are cats that are sensitive to fragrances that won’t like candles, though.

Candles that are paraffin-based will be dangerous for both your cats and yourself. Avoid using these candles since they’re toxic.

Organic wax candles will be safe, but you should still endeavor to keep them away from cats. This is to avoid potential fire hazard issues.

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