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Karma & How to Remove Oil Paint from Cat Paws

Ink & watercolor in handmade sketchbook

This evening Busby, my tabby cat, walked across four freshly oil-paint primed panels on my work table, each footstep lifting the paint right off the panel. There were painted footprints across the table, on a chair and along the floor leading to his usual hiding spot in the corner of my closet. He was curled up for a nap, his paws covered in paint.

Since cats lick their paws so you can’t use anything toxic (and fortunately the paint he stepped in wasn’t toxic–Titanium white). I found a solution that worked. (Disclaimer: I haven’t checked this with a veterinarian):

  1. Use canola, olive or other vegetable oil on the paws like a soap to moisten and loosen the paint.
  2. Rub paws and fur around them with paper towels to remove the paint.
  3. Put dish soap on a cloth and get it wet and sudsy and then rub paws with that to remove the oil and any remaining paint.
  4. Rinse paws under the faucet (or with a soap free wet cloth).
  5. Dry them with a towel and/or a hair dryer (optional).

This was just the last in a series of things that have gone wrong since Friday night when I did something I wasn’t proud of (minor but still….) and immediately thought of karma and wondered how it would affect me. Here’s what’s happened since then:

  1. I bought Microsoft Outlook to use with my new, fabulous iPhone so that I could upload to it my address book and calendar on my computer (currently in Palm software). I installed it on my computer which now crashes on startup and won’t allow me to login as me.
  2. My clock radio decided to die last night, repeatedly waking me with annoying buzzing sounds. The first time I jiggled it and it stopped (midnight). The second time I pulled out the battery and it stopped (1:00 AM). The third time I unplugged it and threw it in the trash. I set the alarm on my iPhone to wake me at 7:00 so I could make it my painting class in Petaluma.
  3. I woke up dazed and exhausted, and decided not to go to class. I went in the kitchen to make coffee. My coffee grinder was making a funny noise so I decided to clean it out, thinking there was finely ground coffee clogging it up. I took off the hopper and tilted the grinder and a little silicon sleeve fell out. I thought I put it aside to finish cleaning the grinder itself.When I was ready to clean the little silicon thingee it was gone. I spent an hour, seriously undercaffeinated and underslept, trying unsuccessfully to find it. I pulled out the trash can, thinking it might have fallen in there. As I sorted through the fish bones, old coffee grinds, and vegetable slime I came across my old friend the clock radio and thought of karma yet again.

    I never did find the silicon gizmo (my Calico cat Fiona loves playing with and hiding anything plastic that falls on the floor so maybe she stole it) but fortunately found the phone number of the manufacturer who agreed to mail me a new gizmo one within a week.

  4. I dug out my old little coffee grinder, which of course wouldn’t work. After I messed with it for half an hour, I finally got the little blades to spin. At last I had my coffee but by now it was nearly 11.
  5. Instead of having the day to do the creative art projects I’d planned, I was too sleep-deprived to do anything but mindless tasks like priming canvases.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the day. I think tomorrow I’ll see if I can’t undo my (minor) foul deed to halt this march of karma. Do you believe in karma?

17 replies on “Karma & How to Remove Oil Paint from Cat Paws”

Jana, a month ago I went through a couple of weeks of bad karma. I can only tell you that this will pass, hopefully soon! I agree with Felicity and will also send positive energy your way as I have plenty to spare this week! The illustration is wonderful and full of beautiful color and karma!!!


Oh Jana, you poor thing. I’ll add to the good vibe chain. Hang in there. Great illustration by the way. Love the splashy color.


What a day this has been, what a rare mood I’m in, it’s almost like being – JINXED!
Of course the story sounds funny to us, but not to you. Yeah, we have days like that, one thing after another and poor puss with titanium white paws! Thanks for sharing anyway.


Aargh! Heart-felt commiserations. Been there, done that.
A friend in the hi-tech industry refers to outlook express as “outhouse distress.” I think he has a point!

But you did manage a quirky little “paw print!”


Oh, Jana, I’m so sorry such bad things are happening. But just think of all the negative karma you are burning off!! It’s actually a good thing – but do hope you’ve had enough of that burning for a while and the rest of the week goes smoothly for you.
Cat paws! What is it about cats that just want to be in the thick of things, no matter what? Sounds like you were much more gentle and considerate than I would have been so you earned a lot of good karma for that!


That’s one of the advantages of painting in acrylic! (Though I’m still really wanting to play with oil again.) And yes, I believe in karma. You can increase it by giving me your studio, your iPhone and all those other great things you have! 🙂


At work on my first large oil (after a lifetime of watercolor), I looked over to see Tallulah (my almost pure white cat) sporting bright primary green down her chin, on her flank and left front paw and leg. Then I noticed small globs of green on the floor and white canvas cover of my swivel chair. Oy! I put her right in the sink (she didn’t like that much) and started soaping up the paw and flank with a little water (water-based oils). I think I took the most I could off for starters then googled “remove oil paint cat fur” and found my way here! I’m glad I did. I saw your header and thought, must be California.

Anyway, hello, thanks for the removal tips and I’m enjoying browsing your artwork and blog.

Will browse some more. Cheers!



Thanks for the tip on removing paint from pet’s feet. My dog stepped in some oil paint today and I was concerned that we might never get it off. Your advice worked a charm. However, he is extremely angry at me for inconveniencing him. He doesn’t like anyone touching his feet, much less rubbing them, so it might take a week to clean all four feet. But at least there’s hope.

Thanks again.


Sorry about your horrible day

a few suggestions, the silicon sleeve/gasket thing you can buy at any home depot or lowes. Most of them have that stuff
and if you dont remember what size, use the part it originally came with to determine the correct replacement.

re: outlook. every PC/Windows box that comes with full MS Office has outlook. If this was just an upgrade, it maybe you have 2 versions competing. My suggestion if you want to sync Iphone with PC, remove both outlooks, and reinstall the new one, after rebooting.

if your on a MAC running outlook, try chatting with other Mac folks to see if anyone is doing the same.

thanks again for the tip, my cat stepped on one of my photos that had printer ink on it.


Thank you so much! I’m replacing some old carpeting with laminate and painted the floor with some nasty toxic “Kilz” paint to cover up a few pet accidents. I thought I had the cats both locked in a bedroom but my tabby escaped and I got to her just as she’d stepped in it. I tossed her in the bathroom, googled “remove oil paint from cat’s paws” and came here. Worked like a charm!


Wow! I’m so glad you were able to get that nasty stuff off your kitty’s feet and I’m glad my post came to the rescue. Thanks for letting me know. I appreciate it! Jana


Many years ago my cat at the time stepped across a canvas I had just prepared using lead white. (which I never used again). I panicked and before consulting a vet I tried using turpentine to clean his paws. Ouch! Don’t do that! Turpentine is very harsh, is absorbed through the skin and with paws interferes with kitty’s breathing! Ouch! The vet assured me the turpentine was much worse than the little bit of lead in the paint. Use dishwashing soap to remove oil paint from kitty! Never turpentine! I use mineral spirits now instead of turpentine, it is less toxic but still most definitely not for use on kitty!


Thank goodness other people have experienced this same dilemma. Pug my beautiful white cat walked across my palette today without me knowing. I came back into the room and saw colorful paw prints on the windowsill and found him asleep with blue, red, green & yellow paws. I washed his paws with a sponge at first and a most of the oil paint came off and his paws looked like they had been dyed. He started to lick and I searched the web and found the helpful hints about the warm soapy water. So my little puggy has had a foot bath and it removed the rest of the colour. He’s spent the last 15 minutes licking his paws and I have given him some cat grass and some dried cat food and he seems okay. Phew! Was fully freaked out!


My parents were out back painting the deck with an all weather outdoor oil paint mixed with sand, and of course, my cat being the curious one that she is, walked all over the deck before they were able to scare her off. I work for a vet so I knew I couldn’t use anything toxic like turpentine or mineral spirits because of it being a transdermal liquid that could be easily absorbed into her skin. I did however freak out a little bit because I had no clue what to use. I came across this post and ran for the olive oil I had in my pantry. I dampened her paws the best I could with a bit of the olive oil on a paper towel, then grabbed some Dawn liquid soap and a wet rag and got it sudsy. I was able to rub her paws down, and then put her paws in a tupper-ware full of warm water to get them clean. It worked wonderfully and I think I got most of it off. Fingers crossed she doesn’t get sick. Thanks soooo much for this post!!!


I’m so glad it was helpful and that your kitty is OK! Olive oil is great for removing waterproof eye makeup too. You can even clean oil painting brushes with vegetable oil. Jana


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