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Home > Cats > Are Candles Bad for Cats? Risks & Safety Tips

Are Candles Bad for Cats? Risks & Safety Tips

candle in a bamboo jar

If you love filling your home with warm scents, you probably have a ton of candles. What home is complete without a few flickering flames, after all? But with all the attention on health these days, some of our readers are wondering if candles could be bad for their pets.

If you’re asking yourself whether candles have a negative impact on your feline, you might have cause for concern. Candles can be dangerous to cats—but it depends. Let’s discuss it further.


Cats Around Candles

For reasons that might seem obvious, candles can be pretty dangerous for cats. A flickering flame can spark serious interest for a feline. But there are also less obvious risks, like potential irritation from certain scents.


One of the main concerns regarding cats and candles mixing is the risks associated with fire. Your curious cat can inspect the candle or might even want to play with the flame on the wick. After all, it flits and flickers, catching the attention of your prey-driven feline.

Obviously, an open flame can pose quite a few concerns. If your cat contacts the flame, it can seriously scorch their paw pads and potentially catch their fur on fire.

One wrong move can singe off some hair and whiskers. Or worse, it could cause significant burns on your cat’s face and skin. They could injure eyes, soft noses, and sensitive paw pads.

Maine coon cat having its paw bandaged
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock


If your cat accidentally knocks over a candle—what’s the worst-case scenario? Your whole house burns to the ground. The best-case scenario is a big mess to clean up. Depending on what the candle is around, it can easily engulf a section of your house in flames and spread very quickly.


Types of Candles

  • Soy wax
  • Beeswax
  • Paraffin wax
  • Palm wax
  • Liquid wax
hand carrying a tealight candle
Image By: Pixabay

Are Wax Melters Good Alternatives?

Even if you have only wax melters, they can still take on significant heat. The temperatures can still blister or burn your cat’s paws if they make direct contact.

Also, wax is very messy and dries quickly. If your cat knocks over your wax warmer, or flicks it with their paw, you might have to clean up wax for days.

Your best bet here is to keep any wax warmer in an area your cat has no access to.

Other Scent Alternatives

You might wonder if an oil diffuser or incense would be a good scent alternative to candles—but is it?

Some essential oils can be highly toxic to cats, especially if they aren’t diluted.


A Cat’s Sense of Smell (It’s Strong)

It seems that cats are a little more sensitive to scents in the air than some other animals. After all, their sense of smell is 14 times better than a human’s. So, here are a few things that might bother them when candles are ablaze.

Chemical Fumes

Some cats can be very sensitive to certain ingredients in candles. While diffusers can be more dangerous because of the toxicity of many essential oils, other components of candles can have a negative impact.


If you notice any sneezing, eye watering, or any other obvious sign of an allergy, you might need to discontinue the use of your candle.

candle and cat
Image By: qwertqwert, Shutterstock


Some fragrances can make your cat sick or just uncomfortable. Each cat will be different, but some can be very sensitive to the smells or contents of the candle. In rare cases, some cats might dry heave or even vomit if the smell becomes too much.

Other Health Risks

Aside from burns or fires, candles can pose health risks if your cat decides to lick or eat the wax. In most commercial candles, there are tons of additives that are toxic to candles when ingested.


Tips for Burning Candles

Let’s face it, no one wants to give up their scented candles. They provide humans with feelings of tranquility and relaxation, things we could always use more of. It’s part of what makes home so homey. Here are a few things to keep in mind when burning candles.

  • Make sure to closely monitor any burning candles. If this means only burning candles when you’re sitting at the table or in the same room—so be it.
  • Try not to put the candle in the same room as your cat. There’s nothing wrong with momentarily restricting your cat’s access to one room on occasion. If you want to burn a candle, but don’t want your cat close, it’s time to shut them out for a while.
  • Use natural-based candles rather than heavily-fragranced varieties. There are plenty of natural candle options without all the extra chemicals. You can search for organic options that smell just as fantastic.
  • Put protection around the candle to prevent spills or burns. You know the inaccessible places in your home your cat can’t reach (hopefully!). Try to tuck it in a well-ventilated, hazard-free area that is hidden from plain sight and offers no access for little paws.
  • Discontinue use if your pets show adverse reactions. If you burn a particular candle and notice your cat is having reactions anytime you do, it’s time to stop. See if it clears up after it’s done. It may just be an environmental irritant that you need to steer clear of for your cat’s sake.

Related Read: 11 Smells That Cats Love



There’s no reason cats and candles can’t peacefully coexist. After all, what else is going to mask the odors that your cat leaves you every day in their litter box? Just make sure you implement safety first so that no injuries or fires occur in the home.

Also, if your cat seems bothered by the scent, try selecting another type of candle to see if it soothes the symptoms.

See also: 

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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