Have Cat... Will generate electricity for food...
February 16, 2006 12:24 PM   Subscribe

Cat Filter - In the winter the static electricity gets in the way of the cat & my... well... lets just say personal time. Any advice?

I know static electricity gets built up more easily in a dry environment, like my house in the winter, but humidifiers and similar products are not an option here. I just feel bad for my poor cat because I'm hanging out petting him and then next thing you know he's being electrocuted like a CIA secret prisoner. I try sometimes to keep one finger sort of grounded to him like on his shoulder while petting him but that just gets him a bunch of really small shocks. Brushing him with only a finger or a two at a time keeps the shocks down but is ultimately unsatisfying for both of us. Help!
posted by meta x zen to Pets & Animals (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have exactly the same problem.

Does your cat seem to be bothered by the shocks? Mine tend not to be, as long as they aren't on a sensitive portion of the body. So, I generally just make sure to stay away from ears, nose, and eyes while I'm carrying a charge.

You could also slightly wet your hand. This works pretty well, although wet cat hair is far less pleasant than dry cat hair.

This may just have to be something you and your cat work through together.
posted by Netzapper at 12:35 PM on February 16, 2006

There are a bunch of conditioners in any pet store that you can just spray on your cat while you brush/pet it. Those should do the trick. Or rub it with a drier sheet.
posted by jaysus chris at 12:42 PM on February 16, 2006

When I lived in an apartment, I would put a little extra hand lotion on before petting time, that really cut down on the shocks. I also would spray the carpets with anti-static stuff you put on clothes after I vacuumed (mostly because that is the time they get the zooms).
posted by blackkar at 12:45 PM on February 16, 2006

I think you need to make sure you're as well grounded (earthed?) as the cat. Can you keep a (bare) foot on the floor?

Out cats don't seem to care though.
posted by crabintheocean at 12:48 PM on February 16, 2006

I second lotion, or using a damp hand to pet. my cat loves to be brushed with a hairbrush that has been run under water and then shook out. My biggest problem was doing the nose to finger touch, and seeing her flinch in preperation for shock and yet do it anyhow. i found that by touching my fingers together first it seemed to help somehow.
posted by gilsonal at 12:55 PM on February 16, 2006

Try petting your cat with a dryer sheet (e.g., Bounce, etc). Seriously. As a bonus, your cat will smell springtime fresh.
posted by tippiedog at 12:56 PM on February 16, 2006

I asked my vet about this recently; she says that cats barely notice the static charge. If anything, the sound might scare them, but they aren't damaged by it at all. It's the same as when a human is shocked by a doorknob. No worries.
posted by weirdoactor at 1:04 PM on February 16, 2006

Best answer: I have terrible problems with static electricity in many places... and I'm a computer guy, so this can really be a problem for me. The best solution I've found, when I'm in an environment that allows it, is taking off my shoes and just working in socks. That grounds me well enough that I stop shocking things.

If you're really desperate, you could always buy a grounding strap and connect it to ground in a nearby plug. This will look completely stupid. Fortunately, however, cats don't care too much how you look. :)

Barring that, contact with grounded metal, like a radiator, would probably work.
posted by Malor at 1:09 PM on February 16, 2006

Is the dryer sheet/anti static spray really a good idea? I have no idea what is in those, but anything you put on a cat is going to get licked off. What is in them? Is it safe?
posted by crabintheocean at 1:11 PM on February 16, 2006

tippiedog's got it. Although you could use a liquid fabric softener in the wash. Set the washer on delicate and dry on fluff.
posted by warbaby at 1:14 PM on February 16, 2006

Running the humidifier in our apartment takes care of this issue for us.
posted by divka at 1:20 PM on February 16, 2006

Ooops, missed the bit about humidifier not being an option. We occasionally use the washing machine to generate humidity too--if that's more feasible for you.
posted by divka at 1:25 PM on February 16, 2006

In winter, I'm acutely aware of trying to stop getting zapped by static. So when I approach door handles, where I most commonly seem to get zapped, I'll give it a quick tap with my knuckles. That way the energy is released and it dosen't hurt much or at all.

You might consider doing the same before touching your cat, I guess.
posted by Effigy2000 at 1:54 PM on February 16, 2006

Self shocking cats are one of the most awesome things, ever. Embrace the self-shocking cat.

If the cat doesn't can't deal with being shocked during an ear scritching session, they'll go away.

There's a very fluffy calico here with odd, downy fur that's extremely static prone. During the dry, hot summers she goes a little crazy. She lives for a good pet, but'll only take so much when static-prone.

But I must say watching her oscillate between sheer delight and sheer confusion bordering on terror is damn amusing.
posted by loquacious at 2:03 PM on February 16, 2006

Don't use a dryer sheet - I don't think a cat would like the taste let alone getting poisoned (maybe not poisoned as in deaded, but it can't be good).

You might try boiling water on your stove. It will humidify your place, just don't let it boil dry. Also, make sure you're grounded before petting your cat and stay that way. Maybe pet him while he's in your lap, that should work.
posted by deborah at 3:31 PM on February 16, 2006

Someone already mentioned this, but a running humidifier usually always takes care of this problem for me and my two kitties. Plus they like to sleep next to it too....

We don't run the kind that boils the water and produces steam though... just a mister.

I would never wipe a dryer sheet on my cat, that's just nasty. And both my cats avoid my hands and give me mean looks if I or my wife trys to pet them after putting any hand-lotion on.
posted by punkrockrat at 3:52 PM on February 16, 2006

Shave the cat.

OK, maybe not. The damp hairbrush seems to work best for us. I tend to agree with loquacious, though -- one of our furburgers is extremely jealous of newspapers and will strive mightily to get between me and the paper at any cost. So I'll work up a nice static charge and then when he jumps on the paper I'll touch him right on the nose. Blammo!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:49 PM on February 16, 2006

In order to not shock the cat, the charge difference between you and the cat must be released slowly. This means that you will need to have some form of resistance between you and ground, on the order of Mega- to low Giga-Ohms. Anti-static mats are designed to have certain electrical characteristics so that any charge applied is dissipated in X seconds, because if the charge were "well grounded" then a shock would occur due to the low resistance. If the mat has too much resistance, then the charge will never be drained away.
posted by Pimonkey at 7:04 AM on February 17, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you for your answers everyone... My cat loves you all...
posted by meta x zen at 9:02 PM on February 17, 2006

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