Cat runs away from me since using nail polish and nail polish remover on my hands

makeuplover8

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Hi, a few months ago I adopted a cat and we have bonded a lot. About 5 days ago I painted my nails with nail polish for the first time since having her. Ever since then she has been running away from me after smelling my hand and shutting/blinking her eyes rapidly after smelling hands. After a day wearing nail polish I decided to take the nail polish off with a nail polish remover (which has a strong smell) and decided to soak my hands in baking soda and warm water to remove the smell. I even tried filing my entire nails, soaking my hands in salt water, brushing my nails with toothpaste. Nothing works. Today she is still cringing at the smell and running away from me. It’s going to be a week soon and I don't know what to do. I miss her and feel sad she runs away from me now and I can’t pet her like before. When she sees me she ignores me now. Please give me advice.

I know it’s not the memory of the smell because I touched hands with my sister and she ran after smelling my sisters hand afterwards.
 

ArtNJ

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Acetone (principle ingredient in nail polish remover and the thing that really smells) mixes with water, so I dunno, that should have worked. Acetone is a weak acid, so you could try wiping with highly dilluted ammonia, but then you have to get that smell off, so I don't know, it could be like that kid's book, The King, the Mice and the Cheese, where the king kept needing a different animal to get rid of the prior animal. So yeah, lets not do that. (In fact, I wonder if you might already have a little The King, the Mice and the Cheese going on, since 5 days is a lot.)

I guess what I would do is pour yourself a glass of wine and take a long bath. Sooner or later whatever the smell is should come off and that should help. I dont think I'd do too much more than that, since in all seriousness, you *could* have a The King, the Mice and the Cheese issue. My wife literally did a The King, the Mice and the Cheese to her car after spilling something and using product after product to try and remove the smell. Sometimes you just have to wait. But Acetone *is* mixable with water, so a bath is logical.
 
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makeuplover8

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Acetone (principle ingredient in nail polish remover and the thing that really smells) mixes with water, so I dunno, that should have worked. Acetone is a weak acid, so you could try wiping with highly dilluted ammonia, but then you have to get that smell off, so I don't know, it could be like that kid's book, The King, the Mice and the Cheese, where the king kept needing a different animal to get rid of the prior animal. So yeah, lets not do that. (In fact, I wonder if you might already have a little The King, the Mice and the Cheese going on, since 5 days is a lot.)

I guess what I would do is pour yourself a glass of wine and take a long bath. Sooner or later whatever the smell is should come off and that should help.
Yes all this experimentation is just drying my nails out. I hope someone who was in a similar situation to me will know how long this thing will take to wear off so I can have some idea how long this thing will take to go away.
 

Robyn5678

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My cats do the same thing with certain lotions. Their noses are super sensitive so even if we don’t smell it, they can. I would just keep washing your hands woth the normal soap you’ve been using all along and eventually the smell will go away. each new way you’re trying to get rid of the smell could just be adding too it.
 

ArtNJ

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Nothing comes up searching so this can't be a super common thing. Your cat probably has a sensitive nose. Agree the best thing to do is just be patient. Although I still think a bath might help.
 

neely

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Since you said you adopted her a few months ago she is probably still adjusting and this just threw her off, i.e. a temporary set back. I would not worry too much since I'm sure she will rebound and forgive you. As the above members have said, keep washing your hands but don't push her, instead let her come to you. Eventually she will return to the loving cat you adopted. After all, you gave her a new forever home and she hasn't forgot that act of compassion. 🤗
 

PushPurrCatPaws

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Hi, a few months ago I adopted a cat and we have bonded a lot. About 5 days ago I painted my nails with nail polish for the first time since having her. Ever since then she has been running away from me after smelling my hand and shutting/blinking her eyes rapidly after smelling hands. After a day wearing nail polish I decided to take the nail polish off with a nail polish remover (which has a strong smell) and decided to soak my hands in baking soda and warm water to remove the smell. I even tried filing my entire nails, soaking my hands in salt water, brushing my nails with toothpaste. Nothing works. Today she is still cringing at the smell and running away from me. It’s going to be a week soon and I don't know what to do. I miss her and feel sad she runs away from me now and I can’t pet her like before. When she sees me she ignores me now. Please give me advice.

I know it’s not the memory of the smell because I touched hands with my sister and she ran after smelling my sisters hand afterwards.
Yes, she's definitely reacting to the nail polish, followed by the nail polish remover... then the baking soda, salt and... toothpaste(!).

The best thing to do is use a natural soap with something like coconut oil or shea butter, which will also help your dry hands. I'd think the acetone or chemicals would eventually break up and be washed away with the suds action of good soap. I make my own soap, but this is a good deal, for twelve bars of soap:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08HJQ2C11/?tag=thecatsite

(note- I'm not affiliated in any way with amazon or the company, a la maison -- I've just used that soap before, but in an unscented liquid version.)
 

Caspers Human

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I use to work in a factory where I worked with industrial chemicals all day long. I worked with things like pure sodium cyanide or industrial grade sulfuric acid. I also used acetone by the 55 gal. drum full. The whole building smelled like "chemical soup." Anything or anybody that spent any amount of time inside that place would come out reeking of chemicals. It was gross! When I came home, each day, the first thing I would do was to head straight upstairs to take off my work clothes, put them in a separate hamper and take a shower.

Of course, Casper came to greet me when I came home. The first thing he would do was to give me a sniff. If I smelled like chemical soup, he'd give me this look like he was saying, "EEW!! You need to go take a shower!" When I came back down, afterward, he'd be all lovey-dovey but not until I'd had my shower.

Acetone is in the chemical class called "ketones." It is not an acid but it is weakly acidic. (Where "acidic" refers to a substance's ability to give up a proton.) It is no more dangerous than any other household chemical. In fact, I'd be much more concerned about laundry bleach. Bleach is FAR more dangerous than acetone.

If you spilled laundry bleach on yourself, it is possible for it to do damage to your skin, eyes, nose our mouth. If you breathe the vapors, it will do damage to your respiratory system. Chlorine gas/vapor mixes with the water in your body and turns into hypochlorous acid inside your lungs then burns you from the inside out! Of course, any inanimate objects that get dowsed with chlorine might be destroyed in the process.

Acetone, while it has its hazards, isn't nearly as dangerous as chlorine. Acetone can do damage to your liver and kidneys if you ingest it. It can cause neurological damage if you breathe it in large amounts. But, the amounts you find in a bottle of nail polish remover aren't necessarily dangerous if you handle it with care.

Don't drink it. Don't breathe it in. Use adequate ventilation. If you spill it, clean it up. If you get it on yourself, wash it off with soap and water. If you feel like you are getting sick from acetone, go get some fresh air and, if that doesn't make you start to feel better in five or ten minutes, go to a doctor.

The antidote for acetone poisoning is usually sodium thiosulfate but it takes a doctor to administer it. At home, your best choice is water. Wash it away with water. Don't use other things like baking soda or vinegar. Just use lots of water. If you think you need it, use a little soap, too.

Did you know that acetone occurs, naturally, in the human body? Only in very small amounts but, yes, the body does make it as a byproduct of metabolizing other substances.

I was, once, present when a coworker got splashed with acetone and it got on his face and into his eyes.
We rushed him over to the emergency wash station and flushed his eyes out with water for fifteen minutes. Then, the supervisor drove him to the emergency room where the doctor looked him over and put some ointment in his eyes. The guy was back at work, the next day, none the worse for the wear. No lasting effects.

As for cats and acetone, I would expect a cat to be able to smell it, instantly. As we know, cats have super sensitive noses. Some say that cats have a better sense of smell than dogs. (I tend to agree but, even if they don't, they depend on their sense of smell more than dogs do.)

If I came home from work, smelling of acetone, Casper would instantly sense it and I'd get that "Eew!" look but a shower would take care of it.

If you spill acetone on yourself, it might absorb into your skin but, unless you took a bath it it, a good washing up should solve the problem. If you got splashed with it in large amounts like that guy from work, I'd expect it to take a few hours or, maybe, a day for it to dissipate but, after that, all the acetone should be gone.

If you use nail polish remover around your cat and you wash it off with soap and water, that ought to take care of the problem. Even if the smell persists, it should only last for a few hours or a day, at most.

If your cat seems to have a reaction to you after using nail polish remover and you have washed and have waited a few hours but still has a reaction, I'd suggest that something else is going on.

Maybe it's a learned reaction. Maybe your cat smells something else. Maybe it's something else that's unfamiliar.

If you don't use nail polish on a regular basis, I'd suggest that your cat is sketched out by you having red fingernails.

Maybe she's afraid because she thinks you've injured your hands?

Whatever is causing her reaction, I think that, after a few times of using nail polish, your cat will get used to it.

Casper got used to me coming home smelling like chemicals. The first few times, he would literally run away. After a while, he got used to the smell and would only give me "that look."

I suggest that, after a few times, your cat will get used to the smell of nail polish and will probably just give you that "Yuck!" look, too. ;) ;) ;)
 

danteshuman

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My cats were kinda confused or not greeting me many years ago when I got a perm. They did not start acting normal until I took a shower. 🤷🏻‍♀️

So maybe next time wash your hands after removing the nail polish, then once your nails are dry, take a shower?
 

lollie

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My cats do the same thing with certain lotions. Their noses are super sensitive so even if we don’t smell it, they can.
Yes. I have had to throw away lotion before that my cat hated. Once, she freaked out and hissed at me. When they get used to you smelling a certain way, they don’t like change.
 
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makeuplover8

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Hi guys, I’ve read all ur replies. It’s a week today since I put on nail polish. My cat use to ignore me but now she rubs against my legs and follows me a lot. But still when I put my hands near her face she keeps blinking rapidly and runs before I can pet her. Yes I wash my hands a ton and yes I shower regularly. It’s evident to me the smell is still stuck in my nails (my fault for using cheap nail polish and remover). A little bit more about my lovely cat. She is an ex feral and skittish but she really loves pets. She does get scared easily. I’m gonna look into the shea butter thing mentioned. I’ll keep you guys updated. I love her so much and hope things return to normalcy soon.
 
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makeuplover8

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Hi guys, I’ve read all ur replies. It’s a week today since I put on nail polish. My cat use to ignore me but now she rubs against my legs and follows me a lot. But still when I put my hands near her face she keeps blinking rapidly and runs before I can pet her. Yes I wash my hands a ton and yes I shower regularly. It’s evident to me the smell is still stuck in my nails (my fault for using cheap nail polish and remover). A little bit more about my lovely cat. She is an ex feral and skittish but she really loves pets. She does get scared easily. I’m gonna look into the shea butter thing mentioned. I’ll keep you guys updated. I love her so much and hope things return to normalcy soon.
Btw I use dove soap
 
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makeuplover8

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Hi guys! So an update. My cat’s behavior towards me in the morning/daytime has pretty much returned to normal! She follows me everywhere, let’s me pet her, and even brushed her cheek against my hand. When she sniffs my hand she doesn’t react.

On the other hand, at night she sniffs my hand and runs. The first time she smelled my hands with the nail polish was at night. At this point I believe it’s the memory not the actual smell she is smelling. I am giving her treats for positive reinforcement even though she refuses to eat out of my hand currently.

The most important thing is that everything is getting better each day! If I feel at times we are taking 5 steps back, the next day it feels like we are taking 10 steps forward.
 
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CatladyJan

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Yes all this experimentation is just drying my nails out. I hope someone who was in a similar situation to me will know how long this thing will take to wear off so I can have some idea how long this thing will take to go away.
Try soaking in epsom salts and then using lotion.
 
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