You probably know that good indoor air quality is important for protecting your family’s health, but what about the kitty cat member of the family? Do the chemicals that impact your health have a negative effect on your cat? According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the answer is yes. Although research on air quality and pets is limited at this point, scientists believe that when indoor air quality is bad for humans, it’s also bad for your pets. A major source of indoor air pollution is the VOCs from conventional paints, but are paint fumes harmful to cats? Indeed, they can be. Paint fumes can irritate your cat’s eyes, nose, and respiratory system. Your cat could even become nauseous, dizzy, or have an allergic skin reaction! The next time you’re going to paint, use these tips to keep your feline friend healthy and safe.
Use Zero-VOC Paint*. Painting with conventional paints can make indoor air pollution levels 1,000 times higher than outside! That new paint smell comes from volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and they’ve been linked to a variety of negative health effects. Still, simply grabbing a paint labelled, “no-VOC” or “zero-VOC” doesn’t always ensure safety. Sadly, zero-VOC paints can still contain toxic chemicals. Just as you’d assume, “low-VOC” and “zero-VOC” mean a product has less VOCs than traditional paints. But, don’t take it at face value. Low or zero-VOC doesn’t always mean non-toxic or healthy or safe. Even zero-VOC paints can contain other risky chemicals not considered VOCs (like highly toxic ammonia and acetone which are not classified as VOCs and are not required by law to appear on the label). Or, the low or zero-VOC claim may only refer to the base paint – not the color tint. So, the moment you add color to your base, you’ve added VOCs right back in.
Also, third-party, eco-friendly, and health certifications can be just as misleading. All third party certifications including the highest levels of certification allow for at least 2 teaspoons (about 50,000 parts per million/ppm) of these chemicals as part of their standards. Yet, toxic chemical exposures as low as 5ppm can cause damage ranging from skin and eye irritation to long-term damage to kidney, respiratory, and cognitive functions.
We know, it’s frustrating. That’s why we made a better option. Use a zero-VOC* paint like ECOS Paints Interior Eggshell Wall Paint to protect your indoor air quality, yourself, and your pets. And, if you’re painting some sort of kitty house or climbing toy, use our Pet Dwelling Paints.
*Conforms to CDPH 01350 (VOC emissions test taken at 11, 12, & 14 days for classroom and office use). Learn more about VOCs and our commitment to healthier paints here.
Open a Window or Leave a Fan On. Make sure that you have good air circulation while you’re painting. This helps the paint dry a little faster and will improve the indoor air quality.
What if the Cat Gets In the Paint? If the paint is water or latex based you can wash the paint off with soap and water. If the paint is oil based, you should let it dry and then cut off the hair that got in the paint. Never use solvents on your cat! They could potentially poison the animal!
Minimize Stress During Renovations. If you’re doing a major renovation that’s going to take a long time, plan ahead for how it will affect your cat. Loud noises, dust, and strangers being in the house can be stressful for your cat, so keep them away from the project as much as you can. Keeping them in a separate room that is clearly marked to stay out of will keep the cat safer and more comfortable.
Also, since renovations often include new furnishings and flooring. Consider this advice from PetMD:
New carpeting also has a host of chemicals that go into the process of making and installing them. Along with formaldehyde, benzene, and acetone, carpets are treated with stain protectors, moth proofing, and fire retardant. They are then attached to the floor with volatile adhesives.
So when buying new carpeting, be sure to talk to the salesperson about allowing the carpet to “gas off” before installation. When possible, have the carpet installed with staples rather than adhesives, and air those newly-carpeted rooms with open windows and fans. Similarly, with new furniture, a lot of chemicals go into the protection of the wood, fabric, and components of the pieces. Allowing the new pieces to air out before your pet is allowed to stretch out on or under them will dramatically lower the risk of a chemical reaction.
Still have questions about renovating or paint fumes and your cat’s health? Let us know in the comments and we’ll do our best to find answers for you.
The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice or recommendations. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding the issues raised here.