You put the candle on a high shelf and supervised it, but somehow, your cat got to it. Maybe your rambunctious kitten knocked over the wax melts that you keep in the bathroom for fragrance. Either way, an accident happened, and now you need to know the best way to get wax out of cat fur. Your strategy will depend on the extent of the damage, the type of wax and your kitty's temperament and tolerance, but rest assured, it's usually possible to remove most of the stuff without having to cut your cat's hair.
Assessing the damage
First of all, make sure there's no danger and that the fire is extinguished. It's possible that the hot wax may have burned your pet's skin. At the very least, she is likely to be scared. Determine what kind of wax the cat got into. It might not seem like it makes a difference, but according to Cats Pro, different types of wax melt at different temperatures.
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Beeswax burns extremely hot, so that type of candle may present more of a burn risk to your cat. Paraffin doesn't burn as hot. This is the material used for many commonly available tea lights and taper candles. Candles in glass jars and scented wax mixes are the coolest-melting types of wax and also the safest. Still, if your cat and a wax burner had an encounter, check her out thoroughly because she could have burns on her nose or paws.
Removing hardened wax
Even if the candle your cat got into is paraffin wax, cat fur will still stick to it. Once it hardens, you may be able to break off the clumps, but there will still likely be bits that will stick to the fur and not come off. Pulling these off may result in a bare patch of skin, and your cat won't like it. Senior Cat Wellness suggests using a fine-toothed comb to brush out any small bits of paraffin wax on your cat.
Cat fur is not the same as dog hair, but some strategies might work for both. Best Dog Nail Grinder suggests using mineral oil or baby oil. Place some of the oil in a bowl and dip a cotton ball into it. Rub the cotton ball over the areas with the wax on it. Thoroughly moisten it with the oil, and the wax might slide right off. If not, try combing it again.
Bob Vila suggests using ice to remove hardened candle wax from carpet fiber. It just might work on your cat's fur too. Simply place the ice cube on the wax. This hardens the ice and makes it brittle. You might be able to crumble the wax with your fingers after that and remove it.
Scentsy wax on a cat
If your cat got into the wax burner and it's not too bad, you might be able to soften the wax by applying a hot washcloth to the area. Leave it on long enough to soften the wax but not long enough that it scalds your cat's skin. Scentsy wax melts at a low temperature, so Scentsy wax on a cat would likely be the easiest to remove.
The problem is that it doesn't crumble as well as other types of candle wax. Instead, it can stay sticky, which can make it even more challenging. Try to use a mild heat source to make it soft and then continue wiping it away until it's gone or until small-enough bits remain that can be combed out. Senior Cat Wellness says it's OK if your cat licks off a little bit of the wax while grooming. Small amounts of standard candle wax are safe to ingest.
Oils on skin
If the wax came from a scented or bug-repellent candle or a candle with a lot of fragrance oils, these may not be safe. Many cats are sensitive to fragrance oils, and if these are close to the skin for a period of time, they may cause skin irritation. Also, highly scented wax with oils may entice your cat to lick and ingest more of the wax than is safe.
Candlemart says cats are sensitive to things like essential oils, citrus-based products, and phenols (which are often used in scents). Even though candle wax or paraffin wax on cats is generally safe if it is ingested, a cat's skin is sensitive to some of the surfactants or carriers that are used to dissolve the fragrance.
If your cat really doesn't like being handled and won't tolerate a heat source or an ice cube to remedy the wax situation, the best way to get wax out of cat fur may be to clip it, especially if it is just a little bit.