HEALTH & CARE

How to Get Wax Out of Cat Fur: Preferably Without Cutting It

A cat sleeping next to some waxs
Jeremy Vaughn
Written by Jeremy Vaughn

There are a lot of troubles that a cat can get into. Some of them can be funny and ridiculous, but others are problematic to fix. What’s worse—some of them can even be dangerous to the cat and your home. One example is when your cat decides to play with wax candles. If that happens, you’ll wish you had taken the time to learn more about how to get wax out of cat fur.

Have you ever gotten wax into your own hair? If you have, then you must know how much of a pain it is to clean. Now take that and add your cat’s panicking, constant struggling, and possible injuries into the equation, and you’ll know why it’s important to be prepared to deal with this emergency situation.

A woman brushing her cat

In most cases, you won’t need to worry. If the wax is far away from your cat’s face and hasn’t burnt her skin too badly, with the tips and advice below you will be able to help your four-legged friend rather easily, without needing to take her to the vet.

Below we will go over all the tips, tricks, and suggestions you might want to try when your cat has found herself covered in wax. There are a lot of different options—ranging from ice treatments to warm baths and all the way to giving your cat a rather hilarious and asymmetrical haircut. We will go over these specifics and help you find out exactly what the best course of action is, as well as how to follow it.

So, What Should You Do Exactly?

How you handle the wax-related incident depends on several aspects:

  • The extent of the damage that your cat has suffered. Having a tiny bit of wax on your cat’s hair is one thing. Having several huge beeswax candles poured all over your cat’s face and body is an entirely different story. You’ll need to correctly estimate how big of a fight it’s going to be if you are to prepare yourself against it properly.

  • The type of wax that has found its way into your cat’s fur is also important. We can’t all be candle-aficionados, but it is important to make a difference between beeswax, paraffin, and standard glass-encased scented wax candles. Beeswax burns extremely hot, while the other options are much cooler and less dangerous for your feline friend.

  • Also consider your cat’s patience and temperament, since not all treatment options are suitable for easily startled and fearful cats. And remember, a cat that’s covered with wax is already stressed out and will be easily startled.

Now that we know the specifics to look for, let’s move on to a step by step guide on what you can do to help your cat:

Step #1: Survey the Surroundings

Don’t panic. In the wise words of Douglas Adams, just don’t panic. There might be a reason to panic, but if that’s the case, it’s even more important not to—both for your cat’s wellbeing and potentially for your house.

a woman holding a cat

Yes, we did mention your house. Before you jump to your cat’s aid, look for anything that might be on fire around the area of the accident. We don’t mean to sound insensitive towards your troubled four-legged friend, but having your house burn down because you missed a spot on the carpet is no good for anybody.

Step #2: Secure Your Cat

Once you’re certain that the cat is the only one in trouble, before you can do anything else, you’ll have to secure your cat. If she is calm, simply holding her firmly in your lap might be enough. However, for more stressed and easily-irritated animals, you might want to consider a better way to restrain the wax-covered feline.

A fluffy orange cat outside

You can get a blanket or a towel to wrap her paws so that she wouldn’t be able to scratch your eyeballs out while she struggles. Pillowcases are also surprisingly suitable for such situations because they have a great shape for holding a cat.

Step #3: See If There’s Any Burns

Now, look for burns on your cat’s body. If there is any burned skin below the fur, go to the vet immediately. Removing wax from a cat’s fur is one thing, but if hot wax has made its way into the skin, then your cat might be in a lot of pain. Trying to fix that yourself can only make things worse.

A woman checking her cats coat

As we said, different waxes burn at different temperatures.

  • Beeswax burns the hottest and is the most dangerous type, even though it’s the best type of wax for candles. If your cat is covered with melted beeswax, she is most probably badly burned. Get her to the vet immediately and don’t attempt to remove the wax, because you may hurt your feline pal even more.

  • Paraffin, on the other hand—the material typically used for tea light, taper candle, or column candle, etc.—burns cooler and is much less dangerous for your cat’s skin, as well as for your home (although it smells rather bad).

  • Glass-encased candles and scented wax mixes are the safest types of wax, so they almost never lead to painful burns. Still, even with them you should be careful and give your cat a thorough examination.

Don’t forget to also look for wax in your cat’s eyes, ears, and face. If there is any wax there, go to the vet immediately, even if you don’t see any burns. You don’t want to risk your cat losing her eyesight or hearing from this incident.

Step #4: See How Badly the Wax is Glued On To Your Cat’s Skin and Hair

This one is determined by the consistency of the wax. If the wax on your cat’s fur is hard, then you might be able to break the clumps by hand. Plus, since it’s hard, it is less likely to have reached the skin. If your cat is not too freaked out, you may even not need to restrain her. Here’s what you need to do to get rid of hard wax:

  • Crumble as much wax as possible.

  • Go for the fine-tooth comb treatment. Place it behind the wax clumps and gently wriggle it to remove the rest of the wax. Your goal isn’t to remove all of the wax—only most of it. Once the majority of the wax is out, your cat will easily take care of the rest.

  • If this method isn’t enough, hard wax can also be frozen. You can use ice cubes to harden the hard wax further and crumble it more easily. Just remember to keep the ice cube away from your cat’s skin. You should also work rather hastily with this method since your cat will likely get irritated pretty soon.

If it’s soft wax and not hard wax, things could get trickier for you. Soft wax is generally safer but may be more difficult to remove, and you will have to restrain the cat.

A cat lying down next to her owner

It may have reached your cat’s skin, so you should inspect the situation and proceed very carefully.

  • Once you are certain that the cat’s skin is fine, soften the soft wax further with the heat of your hand.

  • If this method isn’t fast enough, you can also try to give them a bath using warm water then hair-dry them. This can be very tricky since most cats hate baths and hairdryers, so the success of this enterprise depends entirely on your pet’s temperament. If the bathing or hair-drying of your cat is too much trouble, it might be easier and safer to just take her to the vet.

  • Another alternative is to try dissolving the soft wax using edible oil. The oil should mix with and dilute the wax enough to comb most of it out. Be sure to use a food-based oil, not baby oil or essential oil products, because the cat will ingest it while grooming.

  • Rubbing alcohol can dissolve soft wax as well, but you probably don’t want your cat licking it afterward. If you are going to use rubbing alcohol, make sure to clean the treated area very carefully afterward.

Step #5: Cut Some of Your Cat’s Fur

Some wax can be really stubborn and will keep clinging to your cat’s coat even when the majority of it has been extracted. In that case, as a last resort, you might have no choice but to cut some of your cat’s fur. This might seem like a job best left to professional pet groomers, but you can also do it yourself. Most people have electric hair clippers at home and a lot of cat owners know how to trim their cat’s fur.

With long-haired cats in particular, shaving the waxed areas might not be a bad idea. If your cat tolerates electric hair clippers, then a few minutes with the clippers should be enough to fix the problem.

A person cutting his cats fur

Don’t forget to use the guard on the clippers, however—even though it can make the process much slower and more complicated. A frustrated and irritated cat can twitch and jump at any second, and you really don’t want to add to the damage on her skin with a hair clipper.

Just hold your cat securely, talk to her in a soothing voice and keep working those clippers carefully. Having a second person around to calm and hold the cat is always helpful. Of course, once you are done cutting the waxed hair off, your cat will likely look ridiculous for the next several weeks. Nevertheless, if you’ve done your job well and her skin is not burnt, you can consider the crisis averted.

Also, keep in mind that if the wax has reached the cat’s skin, the hair clippers might hurt your cat and damage her burnt skin even with the guard on. If your cat is short-haired and/or you suspect that the wax has reached her skin, drop the hair clippers immediately and get your pet to the nearest vet.

Wrap Up

If you’ve ever had your cat get messed up with wax, you know how much of a hassle this can be. It’s good if it stops there, but sometimes, the hassle can evolve into a full-blown dangerous situation that puts everyone at risk. Leaving a wax candle burning within your cat’s reach can lead to a wide range of results—from messing up your cat’s hair, burning her skin or damaging her eyes, ears, or face, to burning down the house.

A woman brusing her fluffy cat

As you can see, leaving your cat to play with lit candles is not a great idea. That’s especially true if you consider the fact that we haven’t even touched upon the possibility of your cat directly lighting herself on fire—a tragedy that could happen very easily to a long-haired cat.  All in all, keep wax candles away from your feline pal. But should an accident happen anyway, remember the essential steps:

  • Check for any damages to the cat’s eyes, ears, and face. If there is any, get her to the vet.

  • Check if there are any burns on the cat’s body. If you do find burn marks, get your cat to the vet immediately.

  • Consider what type the wax is exactly.

  • Depending on the type of wax, choose the best way to remove it—either with your hands, by hardening it with ice, by softening it with warmth, or simply by cutting your cat’s fur.

If you’ve gone through these steps carefully and methodically, both you and your pet should get out of the mess just fine. If you’re not sure you can handle this yourself, seek out professional help. Pet groomers have more experience with this sort of problem. Your cat won’t be happy to go out, and she will be even less happy to be handled by a stranger, but the professional touch is sometimes worth it.

What kind of wax has latched on to your cat’s fur? What measures have you taken in order to remove it? If you have any tips and tricks that weren’t mentioned in this article, please share them with us in the comments section.

About the author
Jeremy Vaughn
Jeremy Vaughn

Jeremy Vaughn is a member of Canadian Professional Pet Stylists, who lives in Winnipeg. Creating new looks for cats and other pets is his passion. Jeremy shares his house with the wife and wonderful Siamese cat.

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