Static electricity in cat’s fur is easily charged and real. When we reach out to pet our precious Fluffy Foof, we are greeted with shocks from static electricity. It isn’t pleasant for our felines, nor for us.
As the winter drags on and on, the air gets drier. The drier the air, the more prone we are to static electricity. We can see it, feel it, and hear it.
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Our heating systems combined with the cold air fuel the situation, and that’s why it seems like February and March are prime time for the electricity to fly.
We could make this a humorous post, and perhaps at one point Paws will, but for today, let’s take a serious look at how we can make our furry friends just a little more comfortable, and give us humans, a reprieve from those shocks when we reach out to give our cats their daily dose of loving pets.
Where does static electricity come from?
Static electricity comes from dry air.
It also comes from your cat rubbing against:
- your clothes
- and other household items
As kitty comes in contact with these items, static accumulates on their fur.
The most common sign of static electricity is getting an electric shock when touching your cat.
Check out these blog posts for more on static electricity.
However, their fur can stand up or just not lay down smoothly like it normally should.
That’s how Paws’ kitty family looks. Our Siamese brother, Linus, looks like he’s got wet hair, and when we reach out to him, we can just hear the electric charge crinkle in his fur and then zap, there comes the shock.
Where does this electric charge come from?
At this point, we look to science for answers, because electricity is pretty complicated stuff, and we found this on Ask.com.
What that means is when we reach out to pet our cats, the electric charge comes charging towards our hand.
When we think of electricity, we usually think about current electricity, which flows through wires or other conductors and transmits energy for our washers, dryers, and modern conveniences in our homes. Static electricity does not work the same way.
Static electricity in cat’s fur causes shocks
A static electric charge is created whenever two surfaces contact and separate, and at least one of the surfaces has a high resistance to electrical current (and is therefore an electrical insulator).
The shock occurs when the charge hits the neutral source.
Where static electricity comes from is a common question we find as we go searching on the Internet. We find an interesting take at Ask a Scientist at Cornell University. Each week they answer questions submitted from people around the world. The column has extended from the Ithaca Journal, now having its own website. Not surprisingly, one of the questions they were asked was about static electricity.
The article points out:
- Everything contains tiny electrically charged particles: negatively charged electrons and positively charged protons.
- These particles, invisible to the eyes, are usually confined within objects.
- However, some electrons can move around more easily.
If we remember school science classes, we were taught that negative and positive charges (electrons and protons) are attracted to each other, especially when they’re close together,
But negative charges, electrons, standing alone repel each other.
So objects normally have the same numbers of electrons and protons, being what’s called electrically neutral or uncharged.
The article states,
We quote Ask A Scientist here because they describe what happens to create static electricity so well.
When two different objects touch each other or are rubbed together (like a comb and your hair or a brush and your cat’s hair or different kinds of clothing in a clothes dryer), electrons can be “stolen” by the “electron-greedy” object from the other object.
One object now has too many electrons (the comb or brush) and is negatively charged, while the other has too few electrons and is positively charged (the hair).
The “crackles” you often hear when rubbing objects together are sparks made by rubbed-off electrons jumping back onto the object they came from to try to make both objects neutral again.
But lots of the rubbed off electrons can’t make it back, so the objects stay electrically charged…at least for a while. This is static electricity.
In winter, air is dry, whereas in summer, there’s a lot more humidity in the air.
The humidity or water makes it easier for electrons to move from one place to another. They search out objects with fewer electrons and stay put.
Because they are not floating around looking for a home, there’s a lot less static electricity.
In winter, they can’t find that home, and in their outward search, we hear, feel and see the sparks.
Now we know where static electricity comes from, how do we prevent our felines and us humans from getting shocked.
- The best answer is to put more moisture in the air, by running a humidifier. It’s safe for us, and it’s safe for our cats.
- Another answer we find is wetting our hands before petting our cat. Again, that won’t hurt us or the cats.
- Pet wipes could be a possibility because they have been tested as claiming to be safe for your feline.
- Other suggestions are more questionable. Wiping your cat with a dryer sheet or putting fabric softener on your cat could get exposed to toxins that could lead to serious health issues. Paws would recommend staying away from these and sticking with safe ways to add moisture to our environment.
Are your cats full of static electricity this winter? What’s your funniest story about static electricity? Have you ever pulled a blanket off your cat, only to find his fur is sticking out like toothpicks? Do you use a humidifier to help your human skin, as well as your cat’s fur, stay manageable during the cold winter months? Please share your thoughts and your stories.
This is a shocking subject. There are other things that add to the static other than dry air, consider the fact you are a cell phone & internet addict and have your wifi on blasting toxic EMF radiation harming you and your cats, turn your wifi & bluetooth off, hardwire your devices and stop using harmful wireless devices, shield your electric & water smart meter, make sure the electric system is properly grounded. Do some research on EMF radiation and electro-smog. I recently had to have a cat euthanized because he had tumors caused by EMF radiation.
You are absolutely right, particularly dryers, which are known for static. Thanks for pointing this out.
I recently adopted a young adult kitty, and there’s been a lot of static when I go to touch after I am using my laptop or cell phone. It’s summertime here and not dry, so I’m assuming the electric devices are the culprits? And I’m noticing that she’s almost avoiding having me pet her on her head (that’s where it always happens). I’m trying so hard to make her feel loved and safe. I don’t want her to be afraid of me. I’ll try to remember to wet my hands after using my devices to see if that helps.
Washing your hands after using your electronic devices might be more helpful than just wetting them down. You also might want a damp paper towel or washcloth when petting your kitty on the head. I’d get a little skeptical if I got zapped every time I got petted too. Hope this helps.
Hi my 6 year old cat at times goes to eat from his bowl then suddenly he looks like he has had a shock and then will not eat due to shocks again? Any ideas? Vets tomorrow.
For one thing, I would change the bowl. Cats don’t like it when their whiskers touch the side of the bowl. You are doing the right thing by taking kitty to the vet, as it might not be static electricity. Best to get kitty checked out. You also might want to change the location of the bowl as well.
My cat boomer is really electric ly charged.
His fur is very thick and close togather so i get a lot of little zaps when i pet him. He doesn’t seem to mind the petting,but since he’s such an affectionate cat he rubs against my hands while I’m petting him so when my hand touches his ears or nose
KABAAM,he gets his! And since it’s both of us it feels more violent…i wonder what he thinks?
I’ll bet he doesn’t like it too much, cause he can feel it just as much as we can. Might want to get a humidifier to put some extra moisture in the air. Boomer and you will probably like a little less KABAM. I know it shocks me when I get zapped petting kitty.
Yes i use a small cool mist humidifier and i brush him down every day with a pet spray mist..it helps a lot
One thing a lot of people don’t look at is their bed coverings. If you use or wear polyester (“fleece”) it produces *tons* of static electricity! Once my eyes have adjusted to the dark if I gently push any of my cats along the blanket they will create a sparking blue “wavefront” along the front edge of their fur! This is a humourous show of science to friends/children but also makes for moderately annoyed cats as well so be considerate to your feline friends! Lol (and mine are shorthair, I wouldn’t advise doing this to a long haired cat).
Mine don’t seem to be bothered much by static, but my cats are exceedingly tolerant of most things since their constantly sharing the house with foster kittens which are usually vastly more annoying than any static electricity…
Thanks for sharing. This is great info that I will include on further posts about static electricity.
My one and a half year old has a bad habit of carpet scratching and is full of static ahhhh. The new place I am moving into does not have any carpet though so she will have to learn how to use her Cat tree. I will probably get a humidifier as well as it appears very dry there.
It will help if you put the cat tree(s) someplace she likes to hang out – like right at the corner of the sofa or a favorite lounging chair. No carpeting should help cut down on the static, but won’t eliminate it. A humidifier will help.
My cat has long fur, and her paws spark on the bed as she walks at night. I get shocked a lot, so it seems to bother me more tho.
I was getting some shocks last night when my long haired Little Yellow was walking over me on the couch. He didn’t like it much either.
Wow, great, article. I’m surprised I knew what to do, I realized that my cat an I , were getting shocked as I touched his fur. I had no idea what to do but water seemed like the best option. So I basically wet my hand and pet along his back. Which he seemed to take rather well since he hates water. His hair has also been standing up lately but in more of a puffy kind a way which did seemed a bit weird since he Grooms himself on a regular basis. Thanks again for the article, it was very informative.
Glad you liked the article on Static electricity. A humidifier will help in addition to moisture directly on your kitty’s fur.
Great to know! My cat and I have a bedtime ritual where he demands to be loved. Normally I don’t mind, but he’s so staticy it feels like I’m petting wet pop rocks. One night he went to touch my nose with his and we both got zapped, I swear that night I saw a flash of blue when it happened.
Static electricity takes us all by surprise, and I’m finding lots of static when I’m petting my cats.
I am genuinely thankful to the owner of this website who has
shared this wonderful post at here.
Static electricity indeed is a subject that touches both us humans and our cats. It’s a bit ouchy though.
I had a beautiful short haired cat that was all white. As long as I didn’t *start* petting her on an exposed part of skin (nose, ears) she didn’t mind the static electricity. At night, when she curled up to sleep next to me, there would be a soft glow where my hand stroked her. It was enchanting really. It made her look unearthly as she laid there, purring steadily with a small wave of light moving over her.
What a beautiful story. I’ve heard about the glow effect from static electricity. Sounds like your sweet cat definitely had that glow around her.
Try a humidifier in the room where you pet her. Let me start looking for any other options to help.
I have a female short-haired kitten that just turned 1 year old. 😉 I have never had a problem with her mother, a long-haired calico who recently turned 14 and had an only child litter with the neighbor year old tomcat. I only seem to get static with the baby.
The funny thing is, I live in Florida and have just a throw rugs. Even my furniture has no textiles (sadly) …
We just play. Could there be another explanation? Maybe excitement?
Let me look into this further. It cold be the baby’s fur has less moisture. You may want to try a small humidifier, even in Florida. The scatter rugs could also be an issue, but it doesn’t sound like that should just affect one cat. Let me know if the humidifier works. A small vaporizer would be ok.
Ijustnread the article. I thought I will share an interesting experience with all of you.
I have a dog ( a Spitz ). He has been hand fed by my wife from the time he was a little pup and thatbis how he eats even after 15 years. Anyway, my wife is traveling and I was looking after Casper. Last night, when I was feeding him his staple diet of Indian flat bread and boiled potatos ( yes taht is right! My dog is almost a vegetarian). Suddenly I got a shock on my hands. It happened only once and there after it did not happen again. Since this had occurred for the first time in 15 years, I tried to find an explanation though I knew it had been caused by Static Electricity. Once again thanks for the article.
Static electricity can happen anytime and anywhere even in the summer.
My long hair cat seems to be getting zapped my the carpet. We are renting a new place, and all of a sudden he just takes of.
All winter long we get zapped. Neither kitties nor humans like it much
Living in FL we dom’t have so much of a static problem, but when we do it’s alway’s a surprise to Scooter. He looks so funny trying to find what just zapped him. Growing up in ME we all just accepted it, even the kitties.
We from ME and we know what’s coming – more zaps for the winter
Yep, no dryer sheets for us kitties! As a cat, I like the humidifier idea best – way better than damp-pawed humans!
Very interesting article! One of my cats is very prone to static electricity. I’ve always wondered why she gets more staticy than my other cats, but I guess it’s because she has drier fur. Anyway, at night when we’re in bed, I can sometimes pet her and see the sparks of static electricity as my hand runs down her back. It looks cool, but I know it must be uncomfortable for her. Thank you for sharing the tips on how to get ride of the static. I’ll have to try them out!