Is Acrylic Paint Toxic to Cats?

Randy Charles
Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Usually, painting with acrylics is a hobby that is both enjoyable and a terrific way to de-stress. However, maybe you have a cat that will lick or swallow bits of the paint you are working with. They do this not for its flavor (or lack of) but because cats are generally curious creatures.

But is acrylic paint toxic to cats? According to different veterinarians, acrylic paint is generally non-toxic to cats. A few tablespoons ingested are safe and not enough to provoke hysteria. It may upset the cat quite a bit, but not enough to poison it.

However, you should be alert if your pet has swallowed a lot of paint. This article will explore the world of cats and acrylic paints and provide the answers to all you need to understand.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic to Cats?

There are several types of paint, each of which profoundly impacts a cat’s health. Acrylic paints, however, are the most pet-friendly of these types. As an artist or hobbyist, you are most likely using this paint now and again to create your masterworks.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic To Cats

Acrylic paint is a water-based paint that uses acrylic as the binder and water as the carrier. Since they are water-based, most acrylic paints are non-toxic, which means you rarely find toxic compounds in the mixture.

In most cases, acrylic paints are not toxic to cats should your pet ingest a small amount. Since the paint is water-based, if it should get on your cat’s fur, you should quickly remove it before it can lick it. You can do this with simple dish soap and water rather than unstable cleaning agents.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic to Cats after Drying?

Acrylic paint is not toxic after drying since only damp paint possibly emits paint fumes harmful to cats. Wet paint is easier to clean than dry paint. The faster the paint is removed, the less likely your cat will lick it.

After drying completely, acrylic paint is non-toxic and does not transfer toxins through the pores.

When Is Acrylic Paints Toxic for Cats?

While acrylic paint is seemingly non-toxic, some boundaries need to be clear. A little too much can be harmful to a cat’s health!

  1. Airbrushing: This can immediately discharge dust and fine particles into the air that your cat can inhale. If you are airbrushing (with any paint type), ensure your cat is absent from the premises. This is so the particles may not induce respiratory damage.
  2. Sanding: You can sand your acrylic artwork to save you from having to paint over your blunders or even start over again. But like airbrushing, sanding can spray particles into the air and provoke respiratory problems for your cat. Even though the actual compounds may not be toxic, inhaling particles is not healthy for your cat or if they swallow a significant amount.
  3. Additives: In general, you rarely find toxic compounds in acrylic paints. If you buy acrylic paint with additives like pigments or colors, they could be toxic. These additives may contain cadmium, lead, manganese, cobalt, and chromium.

Signs and Symptoms of Paint Toxicity in Cats

The diversity of paint types is enough to investigate the impacts they can have on a cat. While most acrylic paints are not potentially problematic for cats, they are mildly toxic in large amounts.

Signs And Symptoms Of Paint Toxicity In Cats

There are specific indications and symptoms to look out for if your cat has licked some acrylic paint it found lying around. Or maybe it was exposed to large amounts of acrylic paint. They are:

  • drooling
  • excessive salivation – salivating signals nausea, and this calls an alarm for impending vomit or diarrhea
  • lack of coordination
  • challenges with walking or standing upright
  • tremors and seizures – Caused by acrylic paints’ common ingredients zinc and lead if ingested in large quantities.
  • uncharacteristic lethargy
  • loss of appetite.
  • labored breathing
  • sluggishness and clumsiness
  • depression
  • escalated heart rate
  • gastrointestinal distress
  • dilated pupils or blindness
  • discolored gums

Read Also:Is Acrylic Paint Flammable?

What Types of Paints Are Toxic for Cats?

Paints that are non-toxic, free from heavy metals, or have a very low range of volatile organic compounds (VOC) are considered safe for cats. So the paint brands with labels of “No VOC” or “low VOC” should be used by pet owners.

The big issue with paint comes in the form of VOCs. VOCs get discharged in the air as paint dries, and they induce headaches and respiratory irritation in most people. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports some VOCs are suspected carcinogens.

Oil Paint

There are more VOCs in oil paints than acrylic paints and thus are toxic to cats. While they are most likely to get an upset stomach accompanied by vomiting, the heavy metal pigments in several oil paints can have devastating effects. These can even cause kidney failure, neurological damage, and possibly death.

Oil Paint

Acrylic Paints with Additives

Additives used in certain colors can be harmful because they contain certain unique pigments that may be toxic for cats. Blue, white, and yellow can potentially be hazardous as they contain lead, chromium, cobalt, manganese, or cadmium.

Acrylic Paints With Additives

Some heavy metals are connected to cancers, while others with kidney, heart, lung, liver, or skin disease. In excess, they can cause organ failure and even death.

  • Cadmium: a colorant, is a conceivable carcinogen and deemed highly toxic. As a likely carcinogen, there is a substantial probability that exposure could provoke cancer.
  • Manganese: a natural mineral that can be a component of a nourishing diet. Yet, when inhaled, the nervous system finds it detrimental. As a result, it qualifies as a toxic ingredient in paint.
  • Cobalt: a colorant that can be toxic. There are also chromium, copper, zinc, and strontium.
  • Latex Paint: Most brands include glycol, and consumed in large quantities can result in urinary tract conditions and breathing complications. If left untreated, glycol consumption can also lead to acute renal failure.
  • Gloss Paint: Most gloss paints are water-based instead of oil, which is less dangerous if your cat ingests such paint. Even the tiniest amounts can still lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Also, there is the risk of the smell of gloss. The fumes can be thick, particularly in spaces with little ventilation. If a cat is enclosed in that space, it is detrimental to its health.
  • Spray Paint: Spray paint is a common skin irritant. Exposure to this paint type will cause your cat intense distress. You should never let cats and spray paint integrate!
  • Lead Paint: This is likely the most toxic paint to cats and develops into lead toxicity. With the safety concerns associated with the product, this paint has been deemed illegal in the US. With backups from studies finding proof that more than a quarter of cats that ingested lead paint fell ill. While the US banned lead in paints, purchasing paints manufactured overseas may contain lead as not all countries have the same bans active.

Final Thoughts

Acrylic paints make beautiful pieces and are one of the least toxic paints to use unless your cat has ingested more than a few tablespoons

of them. However, you should avoid such accidents by being conscious of your cat’s whereabouts while having fun with your hobbies.

Randy Charles
Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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