Colorful Incense

Incense And Cats. Is it Safe to Burn Incense Around Fluffy?

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Ah, the scent coming from burning incense can be so calming and relaxing. However,  before you light up that incense, take a look around, and see whether your clingy cat is in the room. Or on your lap. Or on your head. Although burning incense can be beneficial to us humans, that’s not the case for cats! In this article, we’ll look at whether combining incense and cats is a good idea.

Scents of Incense

incense stick

Before we discuss the effects of incense on cats, let’s first have a short discussion about various formats of incense are, and what they are made of. They are usually made of a combustible binding material plus an aromatic substance, and they come in various formats like incense sticks and incense cones.

The binding material helps the incense hold its shape. That’s why you’ll see incense in the market in various forms. They can come as coils, cones, sticks, or powders. No matter what the form is, they are all designed to be ignited for them to produce the aroma.

Incense coils are popular as mosquito repellents, but there are also others that are scented for relaxation like these Lavander coils by Xujia Incense.

Lavender Coils Incense Lavender Incense for Incense Burner.
Lavender Coils Incense Lavender Incense for Incense Burner.
Lavender Incense Specifications: 24pcs / box(lavender incense); Lavender Incense Burning time: about 1 hours
$9.95 Amazon Prime

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Incense cones are coned shaped and there are even some that are designed as backflow incense cones. The smoke on these backflow cones comes out from the hole at the bottom and the smoke looks like water flowing downwards when placed on one of the best backflow incense burners like this Soyo Waterfall Incense Burner.

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Incense sticks are very popular, especially in Asia. They typically burn for a short time only but there are longer ones that could also burn for a longer time. Lastly, those in powder form are also available. These are simply the incense material and are ignited by adding them to a bowl filled with lit charcoal.

The aromatic substances produce the scent when they are burned or heated. They come in various scents and are made of different chemical compounds. You can get them incense in single scent packs or as sampler sets like this Nag Champa Set of 12.

Set of 12 Nag Champa, Lavender, Arabian Musk, Egytian Jasmine, Musk, Dragon's Fire, Dragon's Blood,...
Set of 12 Nag Champa, Lavender, Arabian Musk, Egytian Jasmine, Musk, Dragon's Fire, Dragon's Blood,...
Set of 12 Variety Incense Sticks by Satya Bangalore ( BNG ); Each package has 15 gram, is from Satya Bangalore (BNG) and have the Earth logo.
$15.99 Amazon Prime

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Incense and Cats: the Effect Of Incense Smoke On Cats

Cats have more sensitive lungs compared to humans. When an incense stick is burned, there are a few components that get released into the air. First are the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. When these gasses are inhaled, they combine with the body’s hemoglobin instead of oxygen.

This decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood and the available oxygen for the various parts of the body.

Moreover, there are also other gasses and chemicals that are released.

These would include nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, formaldehyde, and other volatile compounds. The volatile compounds that give the scent to the incense come in a concentrated form so that they can fill the room with the aroma even in small quantities.

However, such substances may also have adverse effects on cats depending on what scents they are or what substances are used to give the incense their distinct aroma. They’re powerful enough to get rid of fruit flies, and they can irritate larger animals.

As cats have more sensitive lungs, they are more prone to the bad effects of such pollutants. The chemicals and gases released into the air when burning incense can eventually lead to asthma. Symptoms of having respiratory problems would include difficulty in breathing, sneezing, coughing, congestion, and watery eyes.

Cats may also lose their appetite and get weak if they don’t get properly treated. Apart from affecting the lungs, the released compounds could also irritate other parts of the respiratory tract, the skin, and the eyes.

Curiosity Set the Cat on Fire

Cats love to rub against everything in the house and are always curious around new objects. You don’t want your cat rubbing against a burning incense stick or cone, risking setting the cat’s fur (or your home!) on fire.

How To Make Incense Use Safer For Cats

As discussed, burning incense is not good for cats (or dogs). However, that doesn’t mean that you should completely avoid using it even if you want to. There are ways how you can still enjoy burning incense while not putting the health of your furry feline friends at risk.

Keep the Cat Out

The first thing you can do is to use the incense in a room where your cat can’t go. You can also place your cat in the other room while you use the incense in another. In this way, you won’t expose your cat to the smoke of the incense.

If you’re burning incense to meditate, keep the cat out of your meditation room.

Open the Windows

Make sure you open the windows and have plenty of ventilation. This will ensure that the smoke dissipates quickly into the air. In that way, by the time you allow your cat to enter that room, the smoke will have largely left the room, and only the scent will remain.

Store Your Incense Safely

Also, don’t forget to properly store your incense. Make sure that it is covered and that your cat can’t reach it. As we’ve said earlier, incense could contain aromatic chemicals in concentrated forms. That could also be harmful to them if they accidentally ingest them.

Cat-Safe Alternatives To Incense

If your main goal in using incense is to freshen up the home, the best alternative would be to simply keep the air clean. You can do that by maintaining cleanliness. Also, you can use an air filter like the LEVOIT Air Purifier.

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you are looking for incense alternatives to improve the scent of your home, these are a few things to look into:

Beeswax Candles

Thinking of using scented candles? Try beeswax candles like the Bluecorn Beeswax Pillar instead.

Last update on 2024-05-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

They are safer than the paraffin ones and are more natural, too! They also help freshen the air at home while producing that wonderful natural honey scent. Some are further scented, but you should still be careful in selecting the scents are some are not safe for cats.

Essential Oil Diffusers

Essential oil diffusers can freshen up your home, car, etc., and make them smell great too. Just be careful in selecting which essential oils to use because some essential oils are also not safe for cats. Examples of essential oils that you can diffuse even when your cat is around are rosemary, spearmint, frankincense, and clary sage.

Some examples of those that you should avoid are lemon, eucalyptus, thyme, and tea tree.


Cats and smoke don’t mix very well, so it’s not a great idea to burn incense around your cat. When it’s time for incense, keep the cat away, open a window, and get a little ventilation flowing through the room before you let the cat back in.

Incense and Cats don’t mix!