Is Incense Bad For Cats

Is Incense Bad For Cats

You may like the calming scent of incense but this poses a problem if you’re also a cat owner. Cats have lungs that are more sensitive than humans and incense may be harmful for them. Incense is bad for cats because it emits smoke which may lead to issues such as respiratory infections and asthma. 

Is burning incense bad for cats?

So, why is incense bad for cats? Incense is bad for cats because of the smoke that it emits when burned. Incense is made up of ingredients that result in an inhale-able particulate matter which may be carcinogenic. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) further states that incense increases the risk not only for cancer like lung carcinoma but also for asthma and skin dermatitis.

Cats also have a very good sense of smell compared to humans and because of this, strong incense can trigger headaches and respiratory problems. Exposure to smoke is the leading cause of asthma in cats.

What you can do to ensure your cat’s safety

If you’re a pet parent who adores your pets but also loves incense there are safety steps you can take to make sure that your cat is protected from the harmful smoke of burning incense.

  • if you’re using incense make sure that your pet is in another room
  • open the windows and see to it that there’s plenty of ventilation
  • store incense in a covered storage box so it’s out of reach of your pets

Incense alternatives that you can try 

You may also want to try these alternatives to incense and who knows there could be one or two that suits your taste and preference.

  • Diffuser sticks
  • Himalayan sea salt lamp or air purifier 
  • Soy candles 
  • Essential oil diffuser 

More information about Incense

More information about Incense
Image: / Adrian Teoh

Incense is a smoke-emitting substance and composed of various materials and scents like cedar and rose. Some are made with resins or powders and first made from aromatic materials like sage, oil and wood. The word Incense comes from the Latin word “incendere” which means “burn”. Incense has been used since ancient times in Egypt to fumigate tombs and during funeral ceremonies. It was also used by Egyptians to drive bad spirits away and as an offering to their gods during rituals. 

Incense has two main types:

  • Indirect burning incense – this is incense that contains loose resin and needs a separate source of heat to keep it burning. This type is commonly used in contemporary settings. 
  • Direct burning incense – this type of incense is lit once and extinguished after awhile. A glowing ember is created which burns the material and releases a fragrant smoke. 

Here are the four main forms of incense:

1. Stick incense –  This incense is mostly used in countries like Tibet, India, Japan and China. It usually burns for a short time.  These are some common types of incense sticks:

  • cylinder incense stick – made directly from the dried paste of incense materials.
  • joss sticks – originated in China and used in different traditions 
  • stick incense with a bamboo core – a central bamboo core with a paste of incense material wrapped around it.
  • dhoop – available in many sizes, is soft, can be broken easily, and is common in India and Tibet.
  • hand-dipped incense sticks 
  • Agarbatti – comes from the word “agar” which means agarwood or aloeswood and “batti” which means stick. It’s an incense stick made of wooden core and a common type of incense used in the Indian culture. 
  • masala sticks – made from a paste that consists of various kinds of wood, gums, oils, herbs, flowers and resins. The paste is spread on a bamboo core’s surface and dried. 
  • Champa incense – similar to masala and durbar sticks and contains sandalwood and plumeria. It’s named Champa incense because the fragrance resembles the Champa flower. It absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and it feels wet to the touch. 
  • Simpoi sticks – these Tibetan variety sticks are hand-rolled and thick stick incenses.
  • durbar sticks – its aroma is sweet and spicy and soft to the touch.
  • Senko sticks – this type originated in Japan and does not have a wooden core.
  • Fluxo incense – its fragrance is pungent and quite popular in India but this may not suit well to western cultures.

2. Cone incense – made from a mixture of powders and essential oils and releases a pungent and aromatic scent that’s suitable for yoga and meditation. It should be placed in an incense burner that holds the ash when the incense burns.

3. Coil incense – also called incense spirals and considered as a modified version of stick incense. It does not have a bamboo core and made solely of incense material. The coil shape allows it to burn longer and a popular choice for worshippers and often used in spiritual sites and religious ceremonies. 

4. Powder incense – only contains incense material without any core and usually added to an ignited charcoal disc in a bowl. 

Materials used in incense include sandalwood, frankincense, amber, patchouli, citrus, cinnamon, coconut, evergreen and dragon’s blood. Dragon’s blood is a very expensive resin and has a perfect balance of sweet, spicy and earthy scents. It’s commonly used and burned for protection, love and exorcism. It is a popular kind of incense but, like all the other incense types, it’s best used while your pets are at a safe distance.

Image: / Indysystem

These are some of the purposes incense is commonly used:

  • for meditation and yoga 
  • to reduce anxiety and stress 
  • for relaxation
  • helps cure insomnia 
  • to increase focus