If you have cats as pets in your home or apartment, there’s a good chance you have some unpleasant smells you want to mask. Beeswax products are some of the most common and popular natural scents favorable for indoor use. However, there are a few things you need to know before using beeswax around cats.
Beeswax is not toxic to cats. In fact, beeswax is a popular ingredient for use as cat paw protectors and other cat cosmetics. Nonetheless, you also need to be aware of potential health risks from processed beeswax, such as liver problems in cats.
As a cat owner, I love using beeswax to purify the air and mask any unpleasant odors. The health risks to cats are mainly due to the presence of human-added synthetic fragrances and a few natural impurities. You also need to know that beeswax candles can be a fire hazard around inquisitive cats. Read on to learn what substances to watch out for when using beeswax products where cats live.
What Is Beeswax And How Is It Made?
Young worker honeybees, between twelve and twenty-four days of age, have eight special glands below their bellies. These sacs produce liquid wax, similar to how humans sweat. Beeswax is a combination of long chains of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
The worker bees consume approximately six pounds of honey for every one pound of wax that they create. In addition to the honey, the worker bees deposit some pollen, nectar, and other substances they collect while foraging into the beeswax.
Bees use the beeswax to create honeycomb that hold up the beehives. As humans harvest honey from beehives, we also harvest beeswax. We use the beeswax for:
- Cosmetic products such as body butter and lip balms.
- Paw protection balms for cats and dogs.
- Coating for foodstuff to protect against mold and mildew.
- Candles and wax melts.
- Varnishes and polishes.
- Electric parts.
What’s the Benefit of Beeswax For Cat Paws?
Beeswax soothes a cat’s paws, especially during winter. In the cold winter, cats step on snow, ice, and cold water. This makes the cat’s paws prone to paw irritation and injuries. In summer, surfaces are hot and this also leads to paw irritation, injuries, and even burns.
Fortunately, beeswax-based balms can help keep your cat’s paws healthy and free of infection. To protect your cat’s paws from cracking, drying, or bleeding:
- Use a damp cloth to wipe off dirt, salt, and debris from your cat’s paws.
- Generously apply the beeswax balm to the cat’s paws. Rub in as much as you can.
- Pay extra attention to any parts of the paw that seem too dry or extra rough.
If it’s your first time using that particular balm on that particular cat, monitor the cat keenly for an hour or two to check for weird behavior or adverse reactions. It’s best to apply beeswax paw balm before your cat is exposed to hot pavements or ice-covered ground. If yours is an outdoor cat, repeat the application each time your cat walks back into the house.
How Do You Make Protective Beeswax For Cat Paw Protection?
If you’re wary about commercially sold beeswax balms, you can make your own. The advantage is you’ll know exactly what’s going into your paw balm. You can control ingredient proportions and do away with any that you think might be harmful. Here’s a sample recipe for homemade beeswax balm.
- Six one-ounce tins.
- Digital kitchen scale.
- Small pot.
- 4 tablespoons of beeswax.
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil.
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
- 1 tablespoon of shea butter.
- Put the beeswax, shea butter, and olive oil in the small pot.
- Over low heat, stir the mixture until well blended.
- Pour the blended mixture into the tins.
- Cool until they turn into a hard solid.
- Cap and label each tin.
- Store away in a cool dry place away from extreme heat. Ho need to refrigerate.
- Use within a year or two.
For extra healing benefits, infuse your mixture with about 20 drops of vitamin E oil. You can also add herbs such as:
- Marshmallow root.
- Rose petals.
Are Beeswax Candles Safe for Cats
If you live with cats, there’s a good chance that there are unpleasant smells in your home you’d like to mask. Candles offer a pleasant option for purifying the air around our homes. According to the Strait Regional Centre for Education, pure beeswax candles are safe for humans, cats, dogs, poultry, and other pets and domestic animals.
However, most beeswax candles are infused with other fragrances and chemicals. This is either to improve the smell for humans or increase the candle’s lasting power. As a general rule, cats are more sensitive to potentially toxic or dangerous scents compared to humans and other house pets such as dogs. Cats have between 45 and 200 million odor-sensitive cells compared to 5 million for humans. No wonder they have a much stronger sense of smell than we do.
Most commercially made candles are full of synthetic fragrances. The scented candles may fill your home with the aroma of Christmas cookies and fresh flowers, but they fill your cat’s lungs with harmful chemicals.
Cats metabolize many substances in different ways than humans. They have different types of enzymes and can’t break down some substances.
Continued exposure to the substances cats can’t break down can lead the cats to serious health complications such as kidney, liver, lung, or heart failure. Some less serious but still disturbing conditions may involve coughing, sneezing, wheezing, diarrhea, and vomiting.
Regardless of the severity of symptoms, if you notice any adverse effects on your cats it’s best to stop using candles in the home or switch to more organic varieties. Some substances found in beeswax candles that may be harmful or irritating to cats include:
May cause stomach upsets and digestive obstruction.
These are used to hold essential oils together when making scented candles. They can affect cats by causing breathing problems, intestinal ulcers, and eye burns.
As the candle burns, the wick will burn and release smoke. The smoke can affect your pets’ respiratory system. The wick smoke is especially harmful if your cat has pre-existing conditions such as asthma, tracheal issues, or bronchitis.
Can You Use Wax Melts Around Cats?
People prefer wax melts over candles due to their longer burn time. Beeswax melts can infuse a room with delicious fragrance, or add a romantic ambiance to a meal. They also can make bath time more relaxing and luxurious. Best of all, they are safe to use around cats and other pets.
Organic beeswax candles are an excellent alternative to commercial paraffin candles. Beeswax candles don’t burn with toxins and are eco-friendly. Plus, they burn much longer and even purify the air.
However, it’s the additives and impurities that happen during harvesting and processing of beeswax that can be harmful to cats.
Aromatherapy additives and essential oil extracts in beeswax candles are often sources of airborne chemicals that cats inhale or lick off their fur. For instance, cats are highly allergic to phenol and phenolic compounds, which are often found in most essential oils.
Mixing your beeswax with Himalayan salt lamps can spell disaster and kill your cats. The salts may provide a beautiful pinkish or orange glow and some would say the salts have healing benefits. However, there’s also a risk of emissions harmful to cats.
The type of wick also matters. According to the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), at least 40 percent of candles have wicks containing lead wires. This is especially true of luminous candles.
The lead works as a stiffening agent so the wick sticks out of the molten beeswax. In high concentrations, lead is dangerous to humans and animals. Lead in candle wicks can be emitted as particulates to the air and end up sticking to indoor surfaces and fabrics.
It’s no wonder the CPSC declared that metal-cored candle wicks which contain more than 0.06 percent lead are hazardous substances. So even though the beeswax is safe, candles and wax melts with wicks containing high lead concentrations can be dangerous to humans, cats, dogs, and other animals.
Another danger of using wax melts around cats is the risk of laceration. On December 8, 2016, the US CPSC recalled approximately 31,000 units of the Luminous Candle Collection distributed by Yankee Candle Luminous Candle because studies showed the wax melts posed a laceration hazard.
Specifically, when the wick was lit, it would affect the temperature of the glass container and cause the glass to break. Shattered glass poses a danger to both pets and humans.
Does Beeswax Pose A Burn Risk For Your Cats?
You’ve heard it before. Curiosity killed the cat. Cats are naturally curious and playful animals, especially when they are little kittens. They are inquisitive about their environment. It’s this sense of wonderment and exploration that often lands them into trouble, mischief, and danger.
It’s with this understanding that you should be careful where you place your flames when you live with cats. Place your candles and wax melts away from your cat’s usual pathways. Be conscious of your cats’ movements with respect to your candle placement.
Beeswax candles, like any other flames, pose a burn risk for cats. However, it’s not the beeswax that’s responsible for the risk. It’s the flame and the cat’s natural curiosity to the bouncing flames and dancing shadows.
How Can You Remove Molten Beeswax From A Cat’s Fur?
No matter how keen you are in monitoring your cat, one way or another your cat may stumble upon your lit beeswax candles. Often, the playful cat will overturn your candle and have some molten wax spilling onto its fur.
How you remove the beeswax from your cat’s fur will highly depend on your cat’s temperament and the extent of damage. Luckily, in most cases the cat will not suffer any injuries. Just a mild burning feeling in the few first seconds when the wax lands. The cat is well protected by its fur. Even for hairless cats, the burn isn’t likely to be serious and will most probably not leave a mark.
If you leave the beeswax on, it will eventually fall off on its own. However, if the beeswax was mixed with essential oils and synthetic fragrances, the cat’s skin may get irritated over the prolonged exposure. It’s better to remove the fur as early as possible.
It’s possible to remove the stuck and now solid beeswax without cutting off your cat’s fur. Here are the steps to follow:
- Extinguish the flame and remove the cat from that spot. You want to assure the cat and yourself that there’s no further danger.
- Different types of wax burn differently. Beeswax burns hotter than most. Paraffin doesn’t burn as hot. Delicately check that the molten beeswax didn’t burn the cat’s skin, nose, or paws.
- Molten beeswax will stick to the cat’s fur and very quickly solidify and harden. Crush the bigger pieces of hardened beeswax between your fingers.
- Some beeswax will still cling to fur. Use a fine-toothed comb to gently comb through the affected areas.
- If your cat doesn’t like to be handled, it might be more prudent to simply use a small pair of scissors and clip off the hair holding on to the wax.
Can Cats Eat, Ingest, and Digest Beeswax?
Cats do not consider beeswax as edible, nor do they seek out beeswax as a source of food and nutrition. However, cats are still animals, and maybe it’s out of curiosity or experimentation but sometimes a cat will end up swallowing a piece of beeswax.
Although beeswax isn’t toxic to cats, it’s not recommended to try giving it to them. Some cat owners give their cats beeswax in an attempt to force out hairballs. It’s important to remember that vomiting hairballs is part of every cat’s nature. Just like it’s natural for a cow to chew cud. Neither cats nor cows need you to help them with their respective processes.
If you suspect that the hairballs are causing severe blockage, the best remedy would be to take your cat in for a checkup at the vet’s office. To prevent risks of severe hairball blockages, brush your cat’s fur yourself frequently. Apart from grooming, brushing your cat’s fur is an act of bonding. The cat will love and trust you more.
Can Beeswax Cause Idiopathic Epilepsy in Cats
Yes, if the beeswax is infused with eucalyptus. Fresh eucalyptus can be harmful to cats, dogs, and horses. Eucalyptol, found in eucalyptus, is the organic essential oil responsible for the toxicity of eucalyptus.
Eucalyptol is favored by humans for creating a wide range of cosmetic, personal care, and hygiene products. We love using them in soaps, mouthwash, toothpastes, and body lotions.
When bees create honeycomb and beeswax, sometimes they carry with them eucalyptus fragments. When we process beeswax, the eucalyptol may not filter out. Thus, when we burn beeswax candles and wax melts, our feline pets may end up ingesting toxic eucalyptol fumes. The fumes may cause seizures, convulsions, and result in idiopathic epilepsy and death over time.
Signs of idiopathic epilepsy in cats include repeated seizures, tremors, and convulsions. Seizure disorders in cats are normally a result of brain disease or a tumor. Idiopathic epilepsy is extremely rare in cats, though it’s more common in dogs.
If you’re worried your cat somehow consumed large volumes of eucalyptol, then watch out for these signs:
- Unease and discomfort.
- Lethargy, weakness, and drooling.
- Frequent loose stool.
Some plants that are equally toxic and equally likely to find their way into beeswax include trumpet lilies, sweet peas, California ivy, and primrose.
Can You Use Beeswax Furniture Polish Where Cats Often Sit?
It is okay to use fragrance-free natural beeswax furniture polish. Even in furniture meant for cats. Beeswax isn’t toxic or repellant to cats. However, when creating the polish, if you mix beeswax with some chemicals it might affect your cats. For instance, if the beeswax polish contains petroleum products it might repel the cats.
Generally, cats will sense harmful substances and won’t come near any furniture polished with toxins. Remember, their sense of smell is way stronger than that of humans.
Is Beeswax Polish Safe to Apply to Cat Litter Boxes?
Beeswax polish is 100 percent safe for use in cat litter boxes. The polish helps reduce clumping of litter and makes for easier removal of cat poop.
However, the beeswax polish shouldn’t contain toxic ingredients. It might be tempting to include some mint or eucalyptol scents to make the litter box smell nicer to humans. What will happen is that your cat will refuse to use the litter box. You will have a difficult time cleaning up after your cats and potty-training.
Does Beeswax Cause Anemia in Cats?
Quite often, cat owners think the use of scented candles is the cause of anemia in their cats. When a biochemical profile or urinalysis confirms the presence of anemia, chemicals and toxins are usually a likely cause of the disease. However, there are many other possible causes of anemia in cats. Luckily, beeswax is not among the likely causes.
Some likely causes of anemia in cats include:
- Poisoning with zinc and ingesting rat poison.
- Autoimmune diseases.
- Poor nutrition.
- Chronic liver or kidney disease.
- Blood parasites such as mycoplasma haemofelis.
Does Beeswax Cause Cats to Vomit Hairballs?
When you live with cats, hairballs will be a common occurrence. Hairballs occur in some cats more than in others. However, beeswax doesn’t cause hairballs.
A hairball, also known scientifically as a trichobezoar, is a collection of cat fur. These cat furs usually pass through the intestinal tract, but some don’t go all the way through. The cat ends up vomiting a ball of the hair, hurling it out of the mouth in a cylindrical shape.
Hairballs are a result of grooming. Cats have a rough tongue that they use to groom their fur and that of their cat friends. If you’re a cat owner, you’ve probably noticed how they are fastidious groomers and keep licking themselves and each other several times throughout the day.
Grooming combs out dead or loose fur, distributes protective oils, and exfoliates the cat’s skin. As the cats go about their grooming, they end up swallowing a large amount of cat fur.
Cats poop out most of the hair as they pass through the digestive tract. However, some of the hair sticks along the stomach linings and piles up after a while. At some point, the stuck hair collects at the outflow of the small intestine, called the polyrus.
When the hairs block the polyrus, a vomit episode occurs to force out the blockage. Since the hair comes through the cat’s throat, it will take the cylindrical shape of a cigar.
It’s clear that hairballs aren’t caused by beeswax. The myth came about because cats usually vomit out the hairballs under dim lights. So if you light your candle and dim your electric lights, the cat will feel it’s less vulnerable and hurl out ingested hair.
Do Beeswax Contain Neonicotinoids?
When honey bees are foraging for nectar and pollen, they go from one flowering plant to another. Because of human farming methods, often these flowering plants have been treated with neuro-active insecticides. The bees may later transfer these chemicals and introduce them to the hive, honeycombs, and beeswax.
Neonicotinoids are toxic to bees, as well as being less toxic to birds and mammals. Thus, any neonicotinoids carried over from plants to hives and subsequently onto beeswax will have no noticeable effect on cats. Fortunately, the process of making beeswax also acts to neutralize the harmful chemicals in neonicotinoids.
Due to the harmful effects on neonicotinoids on bees, EU member countries banned their use as insecticides from 2018. Earlier in 2014, the US banned the use of neonicotinoids in National Wildlife Refuges. This means the likelihood of your cat being exposed to neonicotinoids has drastically reduced. Keep in mind that mammals such as cats are in no real danger from neonicotinoids transferred from plants to bees to beeswax.
Does Beeswax Cause COPD in Cats
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) in cats is caused by the swelling of the airways and mucus membranes. In the past, some cat owners thought COPD was a cat reaction to bees and ingestion of beeswax or pollen.
The myth has since been invalidated. COPD in cats has absolutely nothing to do with beeswax. However, the cause of COPD is still unclear. Some symptoms include:
- Skin discoloration.
Do Botulism Spores in Beeswax Affect Kittens and Adult Cats?
According to one study botulism spores are common at every phase of the honey and beeswax production chain. Botulism spores are highly toxic to cats and can cause paralysis and death.
Botulism comes from bacteria that grows on rotting meats and vegetables. It can cause illness to humans, cats, and most other mammals. Nonetheless, cats are more resistant to botulism compared to other animals.
Botulism interferes with how the body responds to stimuli. It does this by blocking the normal passing of neural messages between the nerves and muscles.
While botulism spores are present in honey and beeswax, cats are safe from them. This is because first, cats do not eat beeswax. Secondly, cats are picky eaters and rarely eat anything that may have botulism spores.
Does Pollen in Beeswax Affect Cat Immunity?
Just like humans, cats can be affected by seasonal allergies due to pollen in the air. Though there are a few rare cases of humans suffering allergies from contact with beeswax, cats do not get allergies from any pollen on beeswax.
If a cat suffers from allergies to the pollen found in the air, they might show the following symptoms:
- Hair loss.
- Excessive stretching.
- Biting and chewing skin.
- Open sores and lesions.
- Redness around the mouth, anus, chin, and paws.
If your cat shows any of the above symptoms, take extra measures to keep your home clean. Vacuum regularly to pick up any floating pollen. Keep your windows closed so as not to let in pollen.
Does Beeswax Contain Alpha Lipoic Acid?
Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a dietary supplement for humans. However, it is highly toxic to pets, especially cats. ALA is an antioxidant found in yeast, potatoes, broccoli, and spinach. Some people traditionally think bees in areas with potato and spinach farms make beeswax contaminated with ALA.
The fact is, natural beeswax rarely ever contains ALA. However, many ALA capsules are coated with beeswax glazing. This makes it easier for humans to swallow. Cats will generally leave your ALA capsules alone. Nonetheless, be extra careful to store your medicines safely from pets and children.
Beeswax is in no way or form harmful to cats. However, addition of impurities, synthetic fragrances, and essential oils can introduce toxins to beeswax.
If you notice your cat behaving funny or appears to be sick or might have ingested toxins, you should visit an emergency veterinary clinic or call your local SPCA Poison Control Center.