Can cats drink paint water
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Can Cats Drink Paint Water? 3 Dangerous Paints

Cats are excellent company when painting. And while they can’t participate in the art, their curiosity may lead them to your paint water cup. But can cats drink paint water safely?

Cats should not drink paint water. Although watercolors and acrylic paints are relatively safe, they may still have dangerous compounds that may damage your cat’s organs. Lead-based paints are the most dangerous to cats.

Is Watercolor Paint Toxic to Cats?

Watercolor is not toxic to cats when taken in low quantities. It is unlikely to cause more than skin irritation and gastrointestinal upset. However, if taken in large amounts, it can cause serious kidney issues in cats.

What Paints Are Dangerous to Cats?

1. Lead-based Paints

These are the most toxic paints to cats. The good news is they are banned in the US and many other countries. However, some countries have still not regulated the metal.

Some oil-based paints may also contain traces of the heavy metal.

2. Latex Paints

Some latex paints may have ethylene glycol (anti-freeze). Cats who eat these paints in large amounts will experience gastrointestinal upset and neurological issues (unstable, weakness, and poor coordination). In extreme cases, it may lead to kidney failure and even death.

3. Some Oil-based Paints

Oil-based paints are made with solvents that produce dangerous fumes. When inhaled, these fumes can easily cause lung inflammation in cats.

Cats with a weak immune system will most likely develop pneumonia, especially if the fumes are strong.

One of the first signs you might observe is your pet coughing. This is a medical emergency and you should immediately contact your vet.

How Much Paint Is Poisonous to Cats?

How Much Paint Is Poisonous to Cats?
Photo by Dagmara Dombrovska on Pexels

A small chip of lead-based pain (equivalent to the size of a thumbnail) is toxic to cats and dogs weighing up to 20 pounds. Anything more is lethal and can easily kill your pet.

Symptoms of lead-based poisoning include:

  1. Lethargy
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Vomiting
  4. Low red blood cell production
  5. Neurological disorder (weakness, seizures, confusion, poor coordination & a wobbly gait)

When Are Acrylic Paints Not Safe?

Acrylic paints are not toxic to cats unless ingested frequently. In the following circumstances, acrylic paint can be harmful:

1. Airbrushing

Airbrushing can easily release particles in the air because of the high pressure used. Inhaling these paint particles can cause serious respiratory issues for you and your cat.

2. Sanding

While sanding helps to achieve a nice smooth finish, the process can also release particles that can cause breathing problems for you and your cat.

While sanding may seem safe, keep in mind your cat’s lung size. With smaller organs, cats can easily get sick from what may not affect us.

Can Paint Fumes Kill Cats?

Paint fumes can kill cats when inhaled for prolonged periods of time. The fumes cause lung inflammation and difficulty breathing. Painting in properly ventilated areas significantly reduces the chances of fume poisoning for both you and your cat.

Can Cats Drink Paint Water? What Happens If My Cat Drinks Paint Water?

Side effects of cats drinking paint water
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels

Cats normally develop gastrointestinal issues after drinking paint water. It’s important to have them checked by a vet immediately after they drink it. Keep in mind the longer they go the more their health deteriorates.

Most cats will have a full recovery after a paint-water exposure. However, delayed treatment may result in serious organ failure and may lead to death.

What Should You Do If Your Cat Licks Paint Off Its Paws?

If your cat licks paint, contact your vet immediately. Do not attempt to make your cat vomit. Vomiting may cause your cat to inhale the paint and damage their lungs. Instead, rinse off their mouth with plain water.

Provide your cat with cat milk or lukewarm water to dilute the paint and reduce stomach upset.

Do not forget to wash their paws with some dishwashing soap to get rid of the paint. If you’re unable to completely wash off the paint, carefully clip the affected area.

Why Do Cats Drink Paint Water?

why cats drink paint water
Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels

Cats drink paint water out of curiosity. Some cats also assume the water is safe as they watch you interacting freely with the cup. They may also be thirsty and see that as the only source of water around.

You need to be aware of how much water your cat needs in a day so you can provide them with enough. If you’d like to find out how to calculate your cat’s daily hydration needs, check out my post on how much water cats should drink per day.

How to Stop Your Cat From Drinking Paint Water

1. Covering Up

Cover up your brush cleaning cup in between rinsing paint brushes or whenever you’re not around. Use anything available (cardboxes, pickle jar lids etc).

Make sure you pour the water once you’re done with your creation.

2. Use a Narrow Cup

Cats avoid drinking from narrow sources. This is because they have very sensitive whiskers which when rubbing on the sides of the container give them a very uncomfortable feeling.

They develop “whisker fatigue” which is an overload of sensations.

If you’ve been wondering why your cat prefers tap or bathroom water, this is most likely the reason.

Picture cat drinking water from a tap

Check Out These 9+ Interesting Reasons Why Cats Prefer Running Water From a Faucet

3. Stick to Low Water Levels

Most cats are just plain lazy and will rarely go out of their comfort zones for anything. If the water levels are low, your cat will most likely just shrug it off and search for another water source.

Low water levels will not only help with your cat, but it’s also good for your brushes’ bristles.

4. Use a Decoy Cup

Set up a decoy cup exactly where your usual cup stays and shift the brush cleaning cup elsewhere.

Cats are smart, so you need to make sure the two look alike. If not, chances are your catto will reject it.

If this does not work, then thoroughly disinfect your brush cleaning cup and use it as a decoy. Then get another one that you can now use to clean your brushes while painting.

Tips for Keeping Your Pet Safe While Painting

1. Air Circulation

Painting indoors can easily become problematic with limited air supply. Make sure you open the windows and keep the fan blowing. This will keep the air moving, eliminating the bad and allowing fresh air into the room.

2. Use a Zero-VOC Paint

Zero volatile organic compounds (VOC) paints are safer as they do not emit dangerous chemicals into the air as they dry off. They are a healthier option for people, pets, and the environment in general.

3. Keep Pets Away

One of the best ways to avoid your cat coming into contact with paint would be to keep your cat away from your painting zone. With their food and water bowls out of your painting area, they are less likely to drink paint water.

Is Gouache Paint Toxic to Cats?

Gouache paint is toxic to cats. It contains cadmium and cadmium compounds which cause health problems when eaten. Your cat may experience weakness, loss of stability or even kidney failure depending on how much they’ve taken.

Should I Worry If My Cat Drinks Acrylic Paint Water?

There’s no need to worry if your cat has taken a lick from your acrylic paint water as most acrylics don’t contain toxic components. However, check the base of the can to confirm.

This should also not be a regular thing as long-term exposure can lead to serious side effects.

Final Thoughts on Cats Drinking Water Paint

Oil paints are more dangerous to cats than acrylic and water paints. In case your cat drinks some paint, do not induce them to vomit. This will only cause more harm. Instead, rush them to the vet or call the pet poison helpline.


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