If you’ve got a feline friend at home then you know what little mischief makers they can be. Cats want your attention and this means that they’re quite likely to walk right in when you are painting, plop down on a drop cloth, or at least dance around your ankles until you take notice. This begs the question, is oil paint toxic to cats?
Yes. Oil paints are toxic to cats, and while they are most likely to get an upset stomach accompanied with vomiting, the heavy metal pigments in some oil paints can do much worse – including neurological damage, failure of the kidneys, and possibly death.
Today I’ll tell you a little more about this subject so that you can set up a strategy to keep your kitty away from your paints if they insist on spending time in the art room. Let’s talk about cats and the potential toxicity of your paints.
Will cats stay off wet paint?
First off, you might not need to do anything. Your cat may be perfectly happy just watching you paint and that canvas is pretty high (and so is your drying rack). Furthermore, most cats don’t like getting wet or sticky, so they’ll generally leave your paints alone.
Every now and again, however, cats exhibit that famous curiosity and there is a risk that they might lick up some paint or walk through some spilled paint, just to mess with you (cat owners out there know exactly what I’m talking about).
Depending on the pigment, this can be a very bad thing, and you can learn more about the toxicity of different pigments at this 3rd party link. Some of the most toxic include Chrome Orange, Antimony White, and Cadmium Red, but there’s a pretty big list. If your cat ingests these, it will get very sick, so an immediate vet visit is a good idea.
The best solution? Close the door when you paint, just make sure you’ve got a little ventilation from the window or some fans. You can try baby gates too. Some cats will just jump over them, but other cats seem to get the picture and will stay on the other side, content that they can see you and what you are doing.
If your cat is the type that is going to stay outside the door and meow, then you might want to prepare a room for them for when you are painting. Put lots of toys and catnip inside and then let kitty out when you are done for the day.
What happens if my cat licks oil paint?
If your cat licks paint then they are at risk of ingesting poisonous heavy metals that are part of the pigment that makes the color for your oil paints. These metals are highly toxic, and so it’s best to visit the vet or call the Pet Poison Hotline. If you are in the United States, then that number is 800-213-6680.
Fumes from the paint aren’t good for you or the cat, either, but the biggest worry is definitely that the cat may lick the paint. Most commonly this occurs when your cat steps in some spilled paint while try to get your attention and then attempts later to clean themselves, so it’s best to keep your cat out of the art room unless they are content to simply sit nearby.
Oil paints are beautiful, but they are toxic for humans and definitely toxic for cats!
What paint is safe for cats?
When it comes to art, Oil paints are definitely the most toxic for cats. Watercolor paints are next, but they are only mildly toxic and will probably just give your cat a tummy ache and a little vomiting at worse. Finally, acrylic paints are going to be the best.
They are considered non-toxic, although they will probably give your cat a belly ache like watercolors will, it’s not something that I’ve tested but with the composition it’s basically like your cat is eating a liquid plastic and it stands to reason that it wouldn’t be good for them.
Now, if you’re painting the house, look for Low or No VOC paints. VOC stands for ‘volatile organic compounds’ and these are definitely toxic to humans and animals, but there are brands that have reduced amounts of even no VOCs that you can use if you are painting on the wall, instead of on the canvas. That way if your curious cat licks the wall then the odds are you won’t need to worry so much about it.
Some closing comments about oils and kitties
Today I’ve addressed the question ‘is oil paint toxic to cats’ and the answer is a definite ‘yes’. Oil paints contain heavy metals as part of their pigment components and these are toxic both to humans and animals like. If your cat ingests oil paint, be sure to take them in for an immediate vet visit or contact the Pet Poison Control center for further instruction. Oil paints can damage a cat’s kidneys or worse, so be sure to call if you think your cat has ingested these.
You can click here and find a nice 3rd party link that will give you some advice on choosing pet friendly paints if you need to do a little painting around the house. Until next time, I wish you and your cat the very best!