This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please read our disclosure policy for more info.
Painting with acrylics is a hobby shared by many all around the world. At one point or another you may have a cat that will lick or eat paint, not because its delicious, but because cats are curious creatures. Now you are left with that small pit in your stomach as to whether acrylic paint is toxic to cats or not.
The answer to this question is that small amounts of ingested acrylic paint is generally non toxic and safe. This cat veterinarian states that a few teaspoons of ingested paint is too small to cause a toxicity concern.
The best thing to do in this situation is to monitor your cat for the next few hours. The main symptom of toxicity to look out for is drooling. Drooling is a sign of nausea and is the best way to know if your cat feels like vomiting.
Also monitor to see if there are any changes in your cat’s behavior such as appetite, restroom breaks, as well as your cat just acting different or odd in general.
Zinc and lead are common ingredients in paint and can cause tremors or seizures if ingested in large amounts. If you are overly concerned and are not too sure how much paint your cat actually ingested, then you can always take your cat to the vet for a quick check up so you don’t lose any sleep over it.
A good quick tip would also to be to check your paint tubes to see if they are labeled as non toxic. The non toxic warnings are usually meant for humans, but if you do see this then you can rest assured that your cat will be fine as well.
Acrylic Art World wrote a great article answering if acrylic paint is toxic in general and breaks down the different scenarios that it may be more dangerous in than others.
What Happens If a Cat Drinks Paint Water?
If your cat took a few sips of paint water then this is definitely nothing too serious to worry about. Depending on the amount of water that you use to clean your paintbrushes, the paint is very diluted from the water.
This is by far way less concerning than if your cat were to ingest whole paint directly. It is still good practice to monitor your cat for any abnormal signs or symptoms of toxicity or a bad reaction.
The best way to prevent your cat from drinking cat water is to use a long and narrow glass or something that is tall. A bowl is a lot easier for a cat to get water from.
Using something like a tall glass would require that your cat tips it over to even get a small taste of it. You can also simply make sure there are no cats in the room or area you are painting to ensure proper safety for them, especially if you have more than one cat.
Are Paint Fumes Bad for a Cat?
Now that your cat has accidentally ingested paint, you are probably wondering if the paint fumes are toxic to them as well. Normal paint that is used to paint the walls on the inside of a home can definitely be toxic for a cat. On the other hand, if you are just using basic paint like acrylics for painting, then you can rest assured that your cat will not have any bad reactions to it.
Cat’s are very sensitive to different smells and scents and will usually stray away from intimidating or strong odors which is another reason you do not have to worry about your cat ingesting harmful paint fumes. A great example of this would be citrus based scents. Citrus scents are actually used as a natural cat deterrent that is non toxic.
You can check out my article here about cats and oranges to get a better idea of how this works.
How Do You Get Acrylic Paint off a Cat?
The best way to get paint off of a cat is to wash them immediately. The longer you wait, the longer and harder it will be to remove the dried paint. To do this, you can use regular dish soap.
Make sure you take everything off of your cat. No collars, shirts, sweaters etc. Any item that was exposed to the paint should be thrown out and replaced as this will be harder to clean.
Once you have taken everything off of your cat, it is best to place an e-collar or Elizabeth collar on them to make sure that they do not lick any of the paint.
You can spot treat your cat with dish soap and water to remove the paint without giving your cat a full bath. If your cat has a lot of paint on their body, then it may be best to give them a deep clean with a bath. Be sure to rub the dish soap into their fur. Just adding dish soap to the water will not be enough to properly clean your cat.
Acrylic paint is practically harmless in small amounts. If your cat has ingested a very large amount, like a few tablespoons worth of paint, then it may be a good idea to take them to your vet for further inspection.
Always watch your cat carefully if you suspect that they have ingested any amount of paint. Drooling is a tell tale sign that your cat is experiencing nausea. With nausea comes vomiting which means that they may have ingested a large amount of the paint.
Always try to use best practices like keeping doors closed or painting in areas that your cats cannot access to help keep them safe. Always wash your cat sooner than later if they happen to get paint on their fur. The longer you wait to clean them, the harder it will be to remove the dried paint.