How To Protect Candles From Cats – And Cats From Candles!

Any cat lover knows that if the world were flat cats, by now, would have knocked everything off the edge! In the ‘How to be a Cat Handbook’ (available exclusively to cats) the number one must-have is the ability to have an outstanding ‘paw-pat’. A quick swish should be effective at knocking all manner of objects off all manner of furniture!

This begs the question as to how to keep your candles safe from the whooshing paw of your feline companion. Should a lit candle hit the deck because Tigger is feeling bored or wants your attention you could be in for a whole world of trouble.

Similarly, should you be both a candle and a moggy lover you are going to want to ensure that bored, yet delicate paws are protected from any open flames. Burnt pads are not only going to be traumatic for your pet but a burden on your pocket when the vet sends you his bill.

Keeping candles high up or encased is not going to prevent an agile cat from accessing them. The best way to protect your candles from cats, and vice versa is to ensure that a burning candle is never left unattended. Of course, this should always be the default with any live flame!

How do you Cat Proof Candles?

Whilst ultimately the best solution is supervision there are some steps you can take to minimize the risk of your cat batting a lit candle off the shelf should he be feeling playful, bored, or just want your attention.

Encasing your candle in a paw-proof container is one example. The heavier the better as this will just ensure that your feline friend isn’t able to drop it on the floor with one easy whack of the paw or tail. Cats may be swishers, but they are also inherently lazy and will usually prefer to go for the easy swipe!

Glass-paneled lanterns or pretty carved votive holders are just two models of holders which can be used. However, whilst this may deter, or make it harder for them to be swiped off the shelf should your little kitty be successful in his attempt to land all objects on the floor you still have a fire risk on your hands.

Wall-mounted candles, providing that a full risk assessment is carried out, are another alternative to just popping your candle on the fireplace or coffee table. Without a shelf or other type of ledge for your cat to climb on to reach the candle, it makes it a much safer option.

Of course, the completely foolproof method is to switch to fake candles. Whilst these will still give out some light the ambiance will not be quite the same and if you are a fan of scented candles this will be unachievable. However, by eliminating the live flame you have in turn eliminated the fire risk.

Can you burn Candles if you have Cats?

In terms of exposure to any nasties then the risk is minimal to your feline friends. This applies to all manner of candles including different materials such as petroleum, soy, and beeswax, and also scented candles.

It is very unusual to see any kind of candle have any adverse effects on cats. That said, there are exceptions to every rule, and should your cat suffer from any breathing issues our advice would be to stay away from burning any type of candle around them.

Paraffin candles would always be our second choice over soy or beeswax and limiting burn time is also advised.

Of course, there are other dangers to take into consideration and this includes your cat burning themselves on any open flame. We’ve all heard the expression “Curiosity Killed the Cat” and this feline trait,  by definition puts your tabby at risk of both catching their tails if they get too close or burning their paw pads if they go in for a swipe.

In the unlikely event that your cat does burn his paws seek veterinary assistance asap. Avoid using ointments or creams but do, if they will allow you to, run their paws under cold water and/or apply a cold compress to the affected areas. This article by Lort Smith Animal Hospital in Australia explains this in further detail.

The final risk is that of fire should your favorite kitty win his game of swipe-the-object-to-the-floor. We have already discussed ways to combat this risk but ultimately the only safe way to avoid this is supervision.

What kinds of Candles are bad for Cats?

Overall, the toxins released by candles, even scented candles, are at such low levels there is minimal risk to both us and our pets. However, there are still steps that we can take to reduce any risks even further.

Always burn your candles in a well-ventilated room and limit both the burn time and how often you light them. Soy and beeswax candles are both understood to release fewer toxins than their paraffin counterparts.

There are some scents and essential oils, which are used to scent our candles, that are poisonous to cats and are best avoided. These include:

  • Oil of cinnamon
  • Citrus
  • Pennyroyal
  • Peppermint
  • Pine
  • Sweet Birch
  • Tea Tree
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang

Should your pet suffer from any respiratory conditions these are likely to be exacerbated by the burning of any candle, scented or otherwise, and are best avoided.

Do Cats know not to touch Candles?

Like humans, all cats are all different, have different personalities, and are intrigued by different factors. So, whilst your cat probably won’t know whether it should touch a candle or not it will be dependent on the individual cat as to if it will!

Some may be intrigued by the light, and some may be drawn in by the warmth of the flame, despite it being a minimal heat source. Some may not even care and completely ignore every candle you ever light. You really won’t know until the candle and cat are introduced.

That said, cats are inherently sensitive to strong smells so should you be burning scented candles it is likely that they will stay away from the room. Even so when burning candles as a pet owner always ensure that it is in a well-ventilated room to minimize any risk, no matter how small.

Should your cat have ever incurred an injury from an open flame he IS likely to know not to touch, not to swipe, and not to go near. Cats are clever and he will remember that the candle caused him trauma and pain.

In Summary

Owning cats and loving candles can bring a few small challenges into your life but ultimately, being a lover of both will pose a greater risk to your candles (and your home) than your cats (unless your cat is unlucky enough to suffer from allergies or breathing issues).

Burning soy or beeswax candles and minimizing your overall burn time is the best way to protect your feline buddies from any nasties whilst still enjoying the relaxing calm that burning candles can bring.

Encasing your candles in heavy containers or keeping them on hard, even for cats, to access surfaces is the best way to protect your candles from the cats. However, whilst there is always a fire risk when there is an open flame this will always be slightly increased should a paw-patting feline share your living space. Be mindful of supervision, risk asses, and enjoy both being a candle lover and a pussy-cat parent!