Winter is finally here. This is the season when you yearn for something warm to snuggle up with. You reach for your heater and crank it up a notch to beat the cold. And what could be more pur-fect than cuddling with your warm-bodied feline friend as you sip your favorite hot chocolate on a cold afternoon?
Then, boom! Suddenly you feel the tiny ripples of electricity on your skin! Your poor cat runs for cover, leaving you feeling guilty. What an unpleasant experience for you and your kitty.
Static electricity is part of nature, and anyone may experience those nasty zaps occasionally; even your pets. So don’t feel too guilty for petting your furry friend; he will surely understand that it was unintentional.
After that shocking event, you do not want your unsuspecting cat to become skeptical about being cuddled in the future. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent static shocks from annoying your fur-babies. But first, you need to understand what makes your cat staticy in the first place, so keep reading!
What causes static electricity in cats
The universe and everything in it, including us, is made up of positive and negative charges.
Scientifically speaking, static electricity happens when there is an imbalance of these positive and negative charges between two objects. Friction such as rubbing can cause the transfer of negative charges to another object. The negative charge clings to the surface of the object and stays there until this surface touches another body or object, whereupon the charge is released.
So what do these changes have to do with your cat?
Low humidity levels, especially during winter, can make the air dry. Negative charges do not like dry air and prefer to cling to bodies or surfaces with moisture. The human body, being made up of 60% water, is an ideal host.
So, as we walk over our carpets or rub our hands on a nearby object, we are actually collecting these negative charges on our bodies. Your feline friends may also collect these extra charges on their fur as they play with toys on the carpet or rub their bodies against nearby objects.
When you reach out for a cuddle with your cat, the charges you have collected are transferred quickly to the cat’s fur, creating an unpleasant shock to both you and your pet. That little jolt you feel is actually caused by the movement of negative charges!
Does static hurt my cat?
Picture this: On a cold, winter’s day, you’re walking across a shag carpet to reach for the doorknob. And then, suddenly, bam! You feel a brief static shock and hastily pull your hand away. When you pet your cat, the shock will likely cause him to respond similarly.!
But do not worry; static electricity will not hurt your cat. However, the pesky electric zap might be somewhat annoying or frightening to him. As he does not understand what caused it, he might temporarily hate you or avoid you. And you do not want your cat giving you that killer look the next time you want to cuddle.
Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to stop static electricity; it is part of our daily lives. But there are certainly ways to lessen these electric zaps so that snuggling with our pets is more pleasant and comfortable.
The humble humidifier is your savior
A humidifier comes in handy to put some moisture back into your home. The device works by releasing water vapor, or steam, into the air to counteract dryness. The added moisture in the air helps spread excess charges evenly throughout the environment instead of accumulating them on the surface of your skin. You can even add scented oil to the humidifier’s water reservoir to spread a nice, relaxing scent through your home.
Using a humidifier not only helps you manage those annoying tingles; it is also beneficial for you and your kitty in other ways.
As you may know, low humidity can dry out your skin and throat. It can also be problematic for your cats, as it causes more itchiness and dryness on their delicate skins, too. Pets with respiratory issues such as feline asthma also struggle with dry air, as it aggravates their condition.
Having a humidifier at home, especially during winter, is like killing two birds with one stone. You prevent the build-up of static electricity and at the same time help moisturize your feline’s skin (as well as your own). A humidifier is also perfectly safe for your cat, so it is definitely worth the investment.
Partnering your humidifier with a hygrometer gives better results to accurately monitor and manage the humidity level in the air. A hygrometer is an inexpensive device you can readily purchase at any household store. Simply place it in the room together with the humidifier. The device should tell you when the humidity is too low or when it dips below 30%, and prompt you to turn on the humidifier.
Other ways to reduce those nasty static shocks
You can also beat those tiny zaps with these simple and inexpensive solutions:
1. Water spray helps
Misting your hand with water before petting your cat is the simplest way to prevent static shocks. This will help neutralize the negative charges present in your body. Spraying your cat’s fur also helps, but may not work out so well. Most cats don’t like to be sprayed with water, and doing so might cause your pet to run away and hate you.
2. Bath time solves the problem
Again, water is the main ingredient in solving the static problem. Bath time in cold seasons helps beat those tiny jolts, while at the same time keeping your cat fresh and clean. Remember to use a high-quality shampoo and conditioner for cats to moisturize and maintain their shiny, healthy coat. However, do not bathe your cat too often, as this can be detrimental to his skin health.
3. Try an anti-static metal brush
Want to emotionally bond with your feline? Why not brush his fur? Brushing makes his fur tangle-free and prevents the build-up of static charges. Just make sure to use an anti-static metal brush for cats, since not all brushes are good for the job. Choose a brush without hard bristles, as they can cause discomfort or pain to your cat’s skin.
Your cat is sure to love the massage as you prevent any mats from forming.
4. Synthetic fiber is a big no
Clothes or blankets made of synthetic fiber, such as polyester, can easily cause the accumulation of static charge. As your cat lies on her bed, the synthetic material will rub against her skin and fur, causing the accumulation of electric charges.
As much as possible, choose blankets made of natural fiber to keep your cat comfy and warm this winter. Rugs and blankets made of natural fiber are also more environmentally friendly since they are made of sustainable materials. Mother nature will thank you for sure.
5. Anti-static sprays might work
Commercially available anti-static sprays can be a quick solution to prevent static charge on your cat’s fur. However, the chemicals present in the product may not be totally safe for pets, so this should not be your first resort. When you spray chemicals on your cat’s fur, he may lick it off later on and suffer side effects such as allergies or asthma, or even chemical toxicity, which could be serious depending on the chemical involved. Anti-static sprays may also irritate your cat’s delicate skin.
Keep in mind that you also need to brush his fur every time you spray to prevent tangles and knots. This can be time-consuming, inconvenient, and, overall, not sustainable. And let’s not forget that most cats do not like to be sprayed! For all these reasons, anti-static sprays may not be the best solution, but consult your vet if you do want to use one.
Wrapping it up
Static electricity, especially during winter, is a common concern among pet owners. The annoying electric zaps are a mood-killer for most cats and prevent us from spending quality cuddle time with our beloved fur-babies.
Do not worry: there are several solutions available to fix these little shocks. Hopefully, you can apply some of these at home so that cuddle time is more comfortable for you and your cat.
Image: istockphoto.com / blhowe