How to Get Sticky Stuff Out of Cat Fur (Oil, Glue, Gum, Wax, And Grease)

Cats get into the worst places, and their fur can suffer for it. Whether it’s engine oil, paint, resin, gum, or even glue, it’s not uncommon to find sticky stuff in your feline’s coat. Sometimes the cat won’t be able to clear away the residue on its own. That means you need to narrow down what the substance is, how to get your cat to hold still, and remove it.

When your cat has sticky stuff in its fur, you can use water, cooking oil, soap, or baking soda to dissolve the sticky substance or loosen it from the fur. You can then brush it out, lift it with a rag, or wash it away. Apply these ingredients with a rag, by hand, or by bathing the cat. Removal should take less than 20 minutes.

In the worst case, you may need to trim away the affected area of fur with scissors. The sticky stuff may be toxic and need to be removed immediately. It may also adhere too tightly to the cat’s skin and won’t budge, as is the case with gum. If the sticky substance isn’t dangerous and isn’t bothering the cat, you can leave it. The cat will eventually lick it free or shed the affected hair in a couple of weeks. If you’re unsure, take a safety-first approach.

Why Does My Cat’s Fur Feel Sticky?

If your cat’s fur appears sticky to the touch, the reason could be straightforward. It may have rolled in or brushed against a harmless, sticky substance. You can check the feline over for signs of:

  • Fruit juice
  • Food residue
  • Tree sap
  • Cooking oil

The cat might have picked that up from around your home, your garage, or from the outdoors while it was exploring. It just needs a quick grooming session to be clean again.

However, you may be dealing with a medical condition. There are times when the fur itself or the cat’s skin produces a tacky fluid. Likewise, if the cat is ill, its body may be unable to maintain the quality of its fur. This could lead to its hair becoming thin, frail, dull, or even a little sticky. Common medical conditions that cause sticky fur include:

  • Obesity
  • Oral diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis

At the minimum, one of these health issues may be limiting how well your cat can groom itself. Any sticky substances that the feline would’ve normally cleaned off will remain. That leaves you to deal with sticky cat fur.

The good news is, medical issues are rarely the cause of sticky fur in cats. As long as you don’t notice any symptoms of illness or clear signs of an injury, your cat probably just rubbed against or rolled over something it shouldn’t have.

How To Remove Sticky Residue From Cat Fur

You should be careful when removing a gooey substance from your cat’s fur. Being heavy-handed could damage the fur or hurt your cat. The best approach is to discover exactly what the substance is. Motor oil, for example, won’t clean away like tree sap. Likewise, glue can be harmlessly dissolved, but gum will hang on for dear life.

Once you’ve narrowed down the type of sticky residue, you should make sure it’s non-toxic. If it’s toxic, and your cat may have ingested some, contact your vet. Don’t let your cat lick at the substance, but don’t waste time cleaning it off when your cat may need medical attention.

If the substance is harmless, then you can move on to picking out the right tools for the job. Here are different types of sticky residue and how to get them off your cat’s fur:

cat has something stuck in fur

How To Get Gum Out Of Cat Fur

Chewing gum is sticky and can stretch very thin. When paired with the fact that it hardens over time, it can be nearly impossible to get out of your cat’s fur. The key will be to break up the base components of gum since it can’t be washed out normally.

Apply An Ice Cube

Even old, dried gum will remain tacky at its edges. Pulling away a chunk will still leave residue behind. To avoid that, use ice cubes and press them to the gum. This can freeze the gum straight through, letting you tug or peel it away in one piece.

Apply Oil

Normal cooking oil will help loosen gum from your cat’s fur. It will sink in between the gum’s contact points with the fur and make it easier to lift away. Just be sure that the oil is pet-safe. You will need to soak that portion of the fur for 5-10 minutes.

Trim The Fur

If none of the previous methods work, you can trim the fur as a last resort. When cutting the fur, do so gradually. It’s easy to nick your cat’s skin, especially if it’s a shorthair breed.

How To Get Dried Paint Out Of Cat Fur?

Paint is toxic to cats and can irritate the skin. It’s important to remove it as quickly as possible. Depending on the type of paint that’s dried in the cat’s fur, you’ll need different methods.

Gloss Paint

Paint used on cabinetry, in bathrooms, or on doors is usually gloss paint. It’s known for its shine, durability, and ease of use. Modern gloss paints are often water-based, which is good news for your cat. You can remove it with soap and water.

Wet The Fur

Dampen the affected areas by dipping a rag in water. Ideally, this water should be warm for your cat’s comfort. Don’t be afraid to soak the rag, though. The more water you can get on the spot, the better.

Add Soap

If the paint has dried, soap becomes necessary. It will dissolve the base of the paint and give the water more purchase to clean it off. Cat shampoo or mild dish soap are both good options. Just do not use soap on the face, as it can irritate the cat’s eyes.

Give Your Cat A Bath

For bigger spills, you will need to prepare a bath for your cat. Warm, soapy water will dissolve gloss pain. The cat might fight you, so wear thick sleeves to avoid scratches.

Oil-Based Paint

Also known as enamel paints, oil-based paints are commonly used on walls and ceilings. Compared to water-based paints, they will be harder to remove, but it can be done.

Use Oil

For larger areas, apply oil onto your cat’s fur. You can use any oil as long as it’s safe for cats. Cooking oil is easy to access, but those found in beauty products, like sunflower oil and coconut oil, may be gentler on the skin.

Start by placing a bit of oil on your palm. Rub it into the cat’s fur, moving it up and out of the fur instead of in toward the skin. This will ensure the paint doesn’t smear onto the cat’s flesh, where it may irritate.

Bathe Your Cat

Oil is necessary to break the paint’s adhesion onto your cat’s fur. Next, you will have to wash off the paint and the oil with it. You can easily do this using soap and water in a warm bath.

Trim Off Paint

For small splashes, consider trimming off the paint. Your cat will probably throw a fit about the oil-rubbing process, so snipping a few strands is much easier. Don’t worry about your cat’s fur, as it will grow back fully within a couple of weeks.

How To Get Glue Off A Cat

Glue is perhaps the worst substance to remove from your cat’s fur. It’s designed to bond tightly with any object it touches, especially if it has time to dry. Depending on the kind of glue, you may need to trim the stickiness off.

Super Glue

Super glue dries quickly and holds tight. In fact, according to The American Journal of Emergency Medicine, super glue can even be used to close wounds in an emergency. The natural oils of your cat’s fur and skin won’t repel it over time.

Leave The Glue Alone

Because super glue is so durable and it dries clear, it’s often best to leave it alone. It shouldn’t irritate the skin, and trying to remove it will cause unnecessary stress for your cat. As long as the feline can’t reach the spot or doesn’t seem to care, leave it alone. Your cat will eventually shed the affected fur, and that’ll take care of the problem itself.

Apply Oil

Of course, if your feline can reach the spot, it may try to pry the glue free itself. This can lead to ingesting the toxic substance or ripping out fur in painful clumps. In this case, you can leverage oil once again.

Use a mixture of equal parts oil and baking soda, and apply it to the area. Let the oil soak into your cat’s fur for at least 20 minutes. Rub in the oil so that the fur properly absorbs it. The longer you can leave the oil in, the better.

Soak The Area

Once the oil has seeped into the fur, soak the area with warm, soapy water. This may include a full bath or just dampening a piece of cloth and holding it against your cat’s fur. Massage the area to try to loosen the glue. Repeat these two steps until you have removed most of it from your cat’s fur.

When you’re done, make sure to rinse off any residue. A tiny section of super glue may remain, but as long as it’s not prominent or bothering the cat, leave it be.

Never force the glue off. If your cat’s skin was affected by the glue, do not rip it free. Otherwise, you will risk tearing out fur or irritating the skin.

Mouse Trap Glue

Mouse trap glue and fly trap glue can be especially harmful to cats. After all, the whole trap can stick to a cat’s fur. In serious cases, these traps can rip free painfully as your cat tries to remove them.

Calm Your Cat

The first step is to calm your cat. At the very least, make sure it isn’t thrashing around and trying to tear the trap free. It may injure itself by bumping against objects or falling off a table. If the cat refuses to calm down, wrap its limbs in a towel.

Trim Off The Trap

Before addressing the glue, try to remove as much of the trap as you can. Use a sharp pair of scissors. If the cat begins thrashing once again, stop and calm it down. Tearing the trap away is painful, but so is cutting your feline.

You don’t need to cut off the entirety of the glue trap. Just trim what you can. This will give you better access to the glue and limit how much the bulky object can upset your cat.

Add Oil

Apply oil onto the space between the trap and your cat’s fur. The oil will dissolve the glue, allowing the trap to slip off.

Let the oil seep into the fur for at least 5 minutes. If the glue is hard to remove, consider adding more oil or letting it soak for longer. This step may only pry off some areas of the glue trap, so trim the excess with your scissors. Once the trap is removed, bathe your cat to remove the extra.

Do not use any solutions other than cat-safe oils. Paint thinners or acetone can be very harmful.

How To Get Wax Off Cat Fur

Lighting candles is a cheap and easy way to make a room more serene. However, cats and lit candles are never a good mix. If your find your pet speckled in candle wax, you should:

Crumble The Wax

When exposed to cold air, the wax will harden. For wax that has dried in thin layers, you can easily break it apart and crumble it in your hands. Try to remove as much as you can this way before moving to the next step.

Comb The Fur

Once you have removed or broken down the larger clumps of wax, you can go through the fur with a wide-toothed comb. This is preferably one made for grooming, as the teeth will be placed more tightly together.

The comb will break up smaller bits of wax and pull them free. Just be sure to follow the grain of your cat’s fur to avoid pain or discomfort.

Use A Damp Cloth

The wax may still leave behind a residue that’s tacky or oily. You can remove this using a wet cloth. Soak the area for 1 minute and then rub the spot, pulling up and away from the skin. If the affected area is large, a bath with lukewarm water and cat-safe shampoo can lift the rest.

How To Get Blood Off Cat Fur

Blood is easy to wash off a cat’s fur. Needless to say, if your cat is bleeding due to an injury, apply first aid and call your vet. However, if it got blood on its fur from other sources, like from you or a mouse, don’t worry.

Unless it comes from someone harboring a contagious disease in their blood, human blood is harmless to cats. While birds or mice may be coated in toxic substances, like pesticides, their blood is no more dangerous than the rest of them.

Let The Cat Remove The Blood

You can let your cat groom itself to remove the blood on its own. Even if you think the quantity of blood is too much, cats can easily take care of it. After all, that’s what they do in the wild.

A Warm Bath

If you want to remove the blood yourself, give the cat a warm bath. Blood easily dissolves in water, but you may need to rub shampoo into areas where it’s dried. In light-colored cats, blood may stain the fur, but this will go away in a week or so. It will not harm the cat.

How To Get Engine Oil Off Cat Fur?

Outdoor cats love to sneak under cars to hide from the sun and rain. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for them to return home covered in engine oil.

Engine oil is bad for cats, as it contains many toxic chemicals. For example, Human and Experimental Toxicology notes how arsenic can have a deadly effect on a cat’s brain. You should remove this sticky substance as soon as you can.  

Removing engine oil is the same as how to remove grease from cat fur. Soap is the trick. With engine oil in particular, though, you may need to use more shampoo than usual. Don’t be afraid to get a nice lather.

Water, soap, and oil are the best methods for removing sticky stuff from cats’ fur. If your cat is fighting you or the substance isn’t harmful, feel free to leave it. The cat will shed the affected hair with time and be back to normal.

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Richard Parker

I'm Richard, the lead writer for Senior Cat Wellness. I'm experienced in all cat health-related matters, behavioral issues, grooming techniques, and general pet care. I'm a proud owner of 5 adult cats (all adopted strays), including a senior cat who is now 20.

3 thoughts on “How to Get Sticky Stuff Out of Cat Fur (Oil, Glue, Gum, Wax, And Grease)”

  1. You mentionned fruit juice in your article but didn’t really give further info. Wondering what to use for sticky dried on fruit particles that are matting my pet’s fur? I know they clean themselves but not sure that’s safe especially when there are sugars & other unknown ingredients in the fruit particles (ie chemical fertilizers, insecticides, etc.)
    Please help ….

  2. You might try peanut butter rubbed into gum or sticky fruit debris as it’s abit gritty & oily which works well to remove these things from human hair. Although not best as a steady diet for cats, it could be ok for a one-time solution


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