If you’re decorating your home, you may find that your cat takes an interest in what you’re doing. This can lead to your cat getting paint on its fur, paws or whiskers. As cats are meticulously clean by nature, you’ll need to get the paint off your cat before they clean themselves.
Cats and paint do not mix well, as paint is filled with toxic substances. If your cat grooms itself and ingests wet paint, it could experience severe health problems.
- 1 Is Paint Toxic to Cats?
- 2 How to Get Paint Off Cat Fur
- 3 How to Get Paint Off a Cat’s Paws
- 4 How to Get Paint Off a Cat’s Whiskers
- 5 How to Get Paint Off a Cat’s Tail
- 6 Will a Vet Clean the Paint from My Cat?
- 7 How to Keep Cats Safe While Painting
Is Paint Toxic to Cats?
Before cleaning up your cat, you need to know what danger they may be facing. The fact is, paint can be very dangerous to animals. Exactly how hazardous, and in what form, depends on the paint in question. As VCA Hospitals explains, different types of paint will have a different impact on cats.
- Lead-based paint can be lethal to pets. Thankfully, such materials have been illegal since 1977. However, be vigilant about watching your cat in old buildings. If the paint flakes and your cat licks or eat it, they could get sick.
- Water paints are generally safe for animals. They should not cause toxicity to your cat. However, that doesn’t mean your pet should have free reign around these paints. Inhaling or consuming water-based paint can cause vomiting or an allergic reaction.
- Oil paints must be approached with caution. These paints require solvents, which if swallowed cause vomiting and diarrhea. Beyond this, solvents can also inhibit the lungs and cause chronic illness. There may also be traces of lead in oil-based paints. Although lead is now banned as a base ingredient in paint, it is not outlawed completely.
- Look out for latex-based paints. These can separate and release a smell that will intrigue cats.
- Also be vigilant about the presence of ethylene glycol, aka antifreeze, in any paint. Most brands will not contain enough to do any permanent damage. However, don’t be complacent. Even the smallest amount of ethylene glycol is too much for a pet.
If you have any reason at all to suspect that your cat is in danger, see a vet. Getting covered with paint is only one danger. Your cat may also inhale fumes, or ingest chemicals.
If your cat has stepped, rolled in or leaned against paint, don’t panic. You may be able to clean paint of your cat’s whiskers, paw pads or fur at home.
How to Get Paint Off Cat Fur
Removing paint from car fur can be comparatively straightforward. To find the ideal technique, however, we need to identify what paint was involved.
How to Get Oil-Based Paint Off a Cat
You must clean an oil-based paint from your cat’s fur as quickly as possible. Thankfully, this is comparatively simple if you follow these steps:
- Hold your cat in position.
- Pour vegetable oil or olive oil onto the impacted fur.
- Rub this oil all over the paint.
- Allow the oil to sink in for a minute or two, then rub the paint with damp paper towels.
- Repeat until all the paint has been removed from the fur.
You should also give your cat a full shampoo, especially if they are light in color. It’s quite possible that the paint will stain otherwise. If in doubt, consult a professional groomer.
In addition, keep a close eye on your cat after the incident. If they swallowed paint, they could get very ill. If you cannot get a fast appointment with a vet, restrict their ability to groom themselves. If you have, or can borrow, an Elizabethan Collar, this will be effective.
How to Get Gloss Paint Off a Cat
If your gloss paint is water-based, you can likely get away with a simple bath. Drop your cat into a tub or sink, and wash them off with warm water. A shampoo is advisable if you have it, but dish soap will likely be just as effective.
One bath should do the trick. If stubborn paint sticks to your cat’s fur, however, apply the method recommended for oil-based paint.
How to Get Dried Paint Off a Cat
Dried paint requires a different approach. Water will not be impactful against this – you’ll need to either cut or brush it out.
Be careful when cutting fur, as a cat’s skin is paper-thin. It’s easy to accidentally nick your pet with scissors, which can be painful.
Consider using an extremely fine-toothed comb instead. A flea comb may do the trick. This will capture the dried flakes of paint, and with a little patience, remove it completely.
How to Get Paint Off a Cat’s Paws
If the paint is spilled, your cat will almost certainly appear from nowhere and walk through it. It’s one of the great certainties of life with a pet. While tiny paw prints make a cute decorative feature, you’ll really need to clean them up.
In the event of the fur on your cat’s paws being stained, follow the same instructions (above). It’s best to avoid cutting if possible, as some cats are extremely sensitive about their paws. A fidgeting cat and sharp scissors can make for a volatile combination.
If you need to clean your cat’s paw pads, the process is even trickier. Most cats will resist any attempt at scrubbing the sensitive underside of their paws. Remember, cats feel everything through these pads, right down to the smallest vibration on the ground. As a result, you can probably understand that a scrubbing brush feels like torture against them.
You can try the usual oil and water combo, dipping your cat’s paws into a cleaning solution. It will likely take several dunkings, but if your cat tolerates this you’ll get there. The danger comes if you need to stop before the job is complete, however. If your cat grows frustrated and cleans their paws, they risk developing paint poisoning.
My Cat is Licking Paint Off Their Paws
Without being too blunt, stop them at once and call the vet! Any ingestion of paint could be dangerous for a cat. Small amounts are unlikely to cause major problems, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. There is always the risk that your cat will develop paint poisoning.
Signs that your cat may be unwell after swallowing paint include:
- Vomiting (this is extremely common, and if you’re lucky, will be the only symptom)
- Lack of coordination and clumsiness
- Trouble breathing
- Tremors and seizures
- Depression and uncharacteristic lethargy
Naturally, some of these symptoms are more concerning than others. However, even something as comparatively innocuous as vomiting can be dangerous. Your cat could end up dehydrated if they lose too much fluid.
Always see a vet if your cat has eaten paint. If you cannot get to a vet for any reason, call the ASPCA Poison Control Center. It isn’t worth the risk of ignoring the potential dangers.
How to Get Paint Off a Cat’s Whiskers
The short answer here is that you’ll need a vet’s help. Cat whiskers are extremely sensitive, and you could cause severe damage by making the wrong move. Whiskers are also very easy to lick, leading to enhanced risk of paint being swallowed.
Seek help, and never cut your cat’s whiskers to remove the paint. Cats rely on their whiskers to move around, and retain their balance. Cats essentially use their whiskers the same way that we do our fingers. Whiskers do grow back eventually, but your cat will be disorientated in the meantime.
How to Get Paint Off a Cat’s Tail
A cat’s tail is always at risk of getting covered with paint. Felines sometimes dunk their tails into paint pots, and swishing tails easily connect with wet walls.
When it comes to cleaning your cat’s tail, you’ll have to be gentle. Remember, this body part as an extension of your pet’s spine. This means that they’ll be dubious about you handling it.
The first thing that you should try is the cleaning methods (above). Apply plenty of oil, and wash the tail gently with water and soap. This should eradicate the problem with a minimum of fuss.
Will a Vet Clean the Paint from My Cat?
If your cat is covered in paint, get them to a vet. They will help you to clean up a paint-stained cat.
Another option could be a professional animal groomer. Remember, groomers are used to dealing with this situation. What appears to be a disaster to you is just Wednesday morning to an expert.
You should see a vet first if your cat ingested paint. Once they’re medically clear, however, a groomer will have your cat looking as good as new. There will be a cost, but you cannot put a price on peace of mind.
Why are Cats Interested in Paint?
In theory, there is nothing about paint that should interest cats. It’s messy, it’s not edible, and it sticks to everything. Unfortunately, felines may be intrigued by paint due to the smell.
Some paints contain latex to provide gloss. Low-quality latex paint, or tins stored in a cold area, can chemically separate. This releases ammonia into the air.
Your cat will smell this, and could mistake it for feline urine. They will then feel compelled to investigate further. The result could be a messy cat that requires an urgent cleanup.
What are the Symptoms of Lead Toxicity in Cats?
Lead toxicity is the biggest paint-centric danger that faces cats. Thankfully, the presence of lead is minimal in most modern paints. It was omnipresent on days gone by, however. You’ll have to be vigilant about watching your cat in aging properties.
PetMD discusses the dangers of lead toxicity in cats. As you will see, lead toxicity can be fatal if not treated quickly. Even if this is not the case, permanent damage can be done.
The symptoms of lead toxicity include:
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- Visible abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Weakness and lethargy
- Anxious and panicked behavior
- Lack of coordination, as though dizzy
- Loss of vision
If you recognize these warning signs in your cat, see a vet. Time will be critical. You should also try to get an idea of where your outdoor cat may roam. If they visit old, abandoned buildings, it’s possible that the paint will flake and crumble.
Equally, if you move into an aged property, you should look at stripping paint from the walls. Start afresh with a new, cat-friendly paint rather than just covering the existing decoration. It’s the only way to be sure that your cat – and yourself – are safe.
How to Keep Cats Safe While Painting
Regardless of how your cat feels about paint, you’re likely to decorate your home at some point. General safety tips for keeping your cat safe while you’re doing so include:
- Keep all paints, brushes, varnishes and anything else somewhere your cat cannot reach them. High shelves are obviously advisable, but even then, consider keeping them behind a locked door. If you don’t have a backyard storage shed, this could be the perfect time to invest.
- Use a pet-friendly brand of paint. Many brands of paint now avoid chemicals that could harm your cat. You’ll need to ensure that the paint will still meet your decorating needs.
- Ventilate the room as much as possible. This could be tricky. If you open the windows wide, your cat could leap through at any moment. However, trapping any paint gasses within a room could make it harmful to cats for days.
- With the above in mind, it may be worth looking for a cat-sitter while you decorate. Decorating will be much easier without keeping one eye open for a feline intruder. Try to find somebody to take your cat in for a day or two. If this is not an option, be vigilant about keeping them out of your work zone.
- Oversee your pet in the days after you finish decorating. If they’re disproportionately interested in the painted surface, or exhibit signs of sickness, call a vet.
Follow this advice, and your cat will remain safe – and clean – throughout the process. Just stay vigilant in the days that follow, though. Pets will find the one wet spot left on your wall.
If they end up stained by paint, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. As long as you take action quickly, they will not suffer any ill effects. If you ignore the situation, however, things can turn bad very quickly. Keep one golden rule in mind through your decoration.