There are just some awesome smells that will forever be my favorites. These are the scent of a clean home, freshly washed laundry, and a burning candle.
Candles create a special atmosphere and have a soothing effect. They add an extra touch of coziness on those winter, holiday days when we all need something to make our homes warmer.
But, are candles bad for cats? Can you safely use them around your home, having a feline friend following you from room to room?
Felines have a delicate sense of smell, but, does this mean scented candles can actually present a threat to their well-being?
There are some important things to learn about candles and cats, so, let’s get started.
Is It Safe To Use Candles Around Cats?
Candles aren’t necessarily bad for cats.
It’s true that our feline friends are sensitive to certain fragrances, but not all candles are the same when it comes to their potential dangers for cats.
Candles made of vegetable way, coconut wax, beeswax, or soy are, in general, considered to be safe to use around cats.
However, there are some types of candles you shouldn’t use if you have a pet inside your home.
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warns against candles with lead wicks, those releasing synthetic oils and fragrances, and those made from paraffin wax, as they can be toxic to cats.
Therefore, you should pay special attention to what type of candle you are about to use in your home.
So, Some Candles Don’t Present Any Risk For Your Cat?
Although organic candles are not toxic to cats, this doesn’t mean it’s safe to light candles and leave your cat unsupervised around them.
Bear in mind that cats are curious creatures. If there is something new and strongly scented around them – they are likely to come near and investigate it.
Lemon trees, for instance. Cats are known to dislike citrus smell, but, if your cat is introduced to a lemon tree inside your home or in your yard – you can’t be one hundred percent sure it won’t sniff it.
The smell of candles isn’t the only issue here. It’s possible that your playful cat knocks the candle over, posing a risk of burns or even starting a fire inside your home!
Also, while organic candles are safer than those with chemical fragrances, some cats can still be sensitive to them.
In case your cat has severe allergies or asthma, even the mildest candle smell can be too much for it.
Finally, it’s important not to exaggerate with candles and only light them in ventilated rooms.
Additionally, avoid burning candles for extended periods. Most importantly, never leave your cat unattended with a lit candle.
Do Candles Present Special Risk For Certain Cats?
You should avoid using chemical candles no matter what cat breed you have. However, owners of some cats should consider skipping the enjoyment of any type of candle.
Using them only occasionally and in ventilated rooms doesn’t pose such a high risk, but cats with asthma and bronchitis are too delicate. Even an organic candle can cause them to have breathing problems.
Furthermore, brachycephalic breeds are at a higher risk in such situations. Greta Veronica Berteselli and her associates  explain how brachycephalic refers to the short nose. Cat breeds with this morphological characteristic are also referred to as flat-faced breeds.
The Exotic Shorthair cat and Persian are one of the most popular flat-faced cats. Due to their specific head shape, these cats are frequently affected by facial, ophthalmic, and respiratory problems.
Therefore, scented candles can make it very difficult for a brachycephalic cat to breathe normally.
How To Tell Whether Your Cat Is Sensitive To Candles?
Perhaps you haven’t noticed any allergies or respiratory distress in your cat earlier. However, it’s possible that a certain candle will cause these problems.
Some of the symptoms you shouldn’t ignore that show your cat is sensitive to the candle smell are the following:
• Watery eyes
• Runny nose
• Itchy skin
• Redness on skin
• Fast breathing
• Labored breathing
Upon noticing these signs in your pet, you should take it to a veterinarian. It would be good to run some tests to check whether your cat has asthma, bronchitis, or some kind of allergy.
The Bottom Line
Are candles bad for cats?
I’m sure many of you will be sad to miss out on some wonderful scented candles while having a furry companion in your home.
Of course, I’m sure you’re ready to do anything to make sure your cat isn’t at any risk of respiratory problems. And let’s not forget how candles can also present a risk of burning for these small curious creatures.
Candles made of paraffin wax are indeed something you should skip, especially if you have a brachycephalic breed or a cat with health problems like asthma.
However, there are some ways to still enjoy a home enriched with a majestic candle smell. You need to choose an organic candle that won’t be too scented for your cat’s delicate nose.
You should also make sure your home is well-ventilated. Furthermore, adding some type of protective covering around the candle is also a great idea: There’s so no such thing as too much caution with a cat inside your house.
In the end, make sure you never leave your cat unattended while a candle is burning in its vicinity.
Just as long as you’re responsible and pick an appropriate candle – this shouldn’t be toxic or dangerous for your kitty.
 Berteselli GV, Palestrini C, Scarpazza F, Barbieri S, Prato-Previde E, Cannas S. Flat-Faced or Non-Flat-Faced Cats? That Is the Question. Animals (Basel). 2023 Jan 5;13(2):206. DOI, Retrieved January 24, 2024.