If you've walked across the room and reached down to give your kitty a rub behind the ears only to get zapped, you've experienced a static shock. Much to your cat's chagrin, a miniature lightning storm just hit your living room. Luckily, there are a few easy things you can to do to calm the storm and keep you and kitty more comfortable.
To prevent static shocks, it helps to understand how they occur. All objects, including you and your cat, are comprised of atoms. These atoms have charged particles called protons, neutrons and electrons. The protons carry a positive charge, the electrons carry a negative charge and the neutrons remain neutral. Most of the time, objects maintain a balance between positively and negatively charged particles, making them neutral. Every so often, environmental conditions create an imbalance. Stray electrons start cruising the environment, searching for atoms to cling to. The rubbing of objects against one another causes the transfer of these electrons, such as walking across the carpet or your cat rolling on the living room rug. Suddenly an imbalance in electrical particles is created. When imbalanced particles come into contact, they try to regain balance by jumping from one object to another. The object carrying extra electrons becomes electrically charged. When it touches another object, the sudden leaping of electrons creates the shock, known as a static discharge.
Use a Mister
When you feel the sting of an electric shock and hear the accompanying popping sound, it means the stray electrons have made their leap from one object to another all at once, creating a powerful electric discharge. Water provides a good conductor for electricity, and allows those electrons to dissipate slowly and over a greater period of time. This results in an undetectable transfer of electrons and, no static shock. Fill a spray bottle with distilled water -- regular tap water will work also. Regularly mist your kitty lightly with the water, covering his entire body. If you feel your cat will resist, or resent, the spray bottle, try grooming him with an ionizing brush. The ions collect the stray electrons, neutralizing his fur and reducing your chances of receiving a shock.
Humidify Your Home
Employ the use of a humidifier. Especially helpful during the winter months, as temperatures grow cold and the heater kicks on, the air inside your home becomes arid. The dry conditions lead to greater differences in charges between objects in your home and, therefore, increased static electricity. In humid conditions, objects have more trouble retaining static charges. This includes you and your kitty. By keeping the humidity in your home between 20 and 50 percent, you not only increase the comfort of your environment, but eliminate the risk of receiving a static shock.
Buy an Ionizer
If you prefer not to humidify your home environment, buy an ionizer for your house. Appearing much like a fan or air purifier, these devices release imbalanced molecules into the atmosphere. These microscopic particles capture stray electrons, which prevents them from collecting on other objects. A good ionizer may be able to neutralize electrical charges on you and your cat, allowing you to pet him without fear.