If you have a cat, you know that there’s a lot of its habits and behaviors that seem unexplainable. You’ll notice its habits and chock it up to just being a cat. For people with humidifiers in their home, many will notice the cat has an affinity for the machine. So if you find yourself asking why does my cat like the humidifier so much, that’s one behavior we have an answer to. We explain why cats like humidifiers and how to keep them safe while still using your machine.
When the temperature starts to drop, the air becomes drier and drier. Low outdoor humidity often translates to low indoor humidity, especially if you use central heating to warm things up inside. When humidity levels are too low, you may find yourself struggling with dry skin, a scratchy throat, and worsening symptoms of allergies and asthma.
The simplest way to increase indoor humidity is with a humidifier. A humidifier is a handy device to have in your home, but you may want to think twice if you have pets. Certain types of humidifiers may not be safe around pets. With the right humidifier, however, you may find that your cat simply can’t get enough of it.
What Does a Humidifier Do?
A humidifier is a device that releases moisture into the air to increase indoor humidity. The term humidity (or absolute humidity) refers to the amount of water vapor in the air but relative humidity may be a more useful thing to know. Relative humidity refers to the percentage of water vapor in the air relative to temperature.
To put it another way, relative humidity is a measurement of how much water the air could potentially hold at a certain temperature. As temperatures rise, it takes more moisture for the air to reach its saturation point whereas cold air can hold less moisture.
Humidifiers increase indoor humidity through several different means. A vaporizer, or warm-mist humidifier, uses a heating element to boil water. The steam created is then released into the air. Evaporative humidifiers draw water through a wicking filter and then blow air across it to create fine water droplets. Ultrasonic humidifiers turn water into mist using high-frequency vibrations.
There is a humidifier for every room and need. Larger spaces require a larger humidifier, simply because they have larger water tanks. There are pros and cons to warm versus cool mist, but if you have a cat you’ll want to go with cool-mist.
Does Your Cat Need a Humidifier?
In humans, the effects of low humidity can generally be felt in the skin and respiratory system. When the air doesn’t hold enough moisture, it can sap moisture from your skin. Dry air can also prevent the mucous membranes in the nose and throat from being properly lubricated. This can cause scratchy throat and may exacerbate respiratory problems like cold, flu, asthma, and allergies.
Cats and humans are very different, but they can suffer some of the same negative effects of low humidity. Research from Cornell University suggests that at least 1% of cats suffer from asthma. Maintaining proper humidity levels in the home can reduce the chances of asthma attacks – it also helps keep your cat’s nasal passages clear. Cats rely heavily on their sense of smell. If they can’t smell their food, they simply may not be interested in it and that leaves you with a picky or potentially malnourished cat on your hands.
Your cat may be less likely to suffer from skin problems specifically related to low humidity, but dry air can exacerbate concurrent skin issues. Allergies are a common cause of skin problems in cats. If your cat already has dry or damaged skin, low humidity could make things worse. It can also prevent the skin from healing as well or as quickly as it should.
Why Does My Cat Like the Humidifier? Is it Safe?
Some pet owners have found their cats sitting very close to the humidifier. Cats are even known to be caught putting their faces right in the mist stream. It’s impossible to know exactly why cats do some of the things they do day to day. However, there are a few reasons why your cat might like the humidifier.
Even if your cat doesn’t know why or how, he may feel more comfortable near the humidifier. Cats with skin problems may find higher levels of moisture in the air more soothing. If your cat has asthma or other respiratory difficulties, he may simply find it easier to breathe in the room where your humidifier is placed.
The humidifier could even help keep him cool in the summer. By grooming themselves, cats leave a layer of saliva on their fur which evaporates in the summer, creating a cooling effect. A cool mist humidifier might mimic this effect.
If you’re going to use a humidifier in a home with pets, it’s best to go with a cool mist model. Warm mist humidifiers come with a risk for burns, so avoid anything that has a heating element. Evaporative humidifiers work well but they can be a little loud. They’re also more maintenance, and you’ll also have to change the filter from time to time. Ultrasonic humidifiers produce a very fine mist and they do it quietly. Although the operational cost of them may be a little higher.
Tips for Protecting Your Cat
Our pets don’t always know what’s good for them, so it’s your responsibility as a cat owner to protect your cat from harm.
When it comes to choosing a humidifier, the most important thing you can do is go with a cool-mist versus a warm-mist model. Warm mist models often incorporate a heating element that puts your pet at risk for burns if he gets too close. That being said, there are humidifiers that offer both cool mist and warm mist functions, just be sure to determine how exactly the humidifier works to determine whether it’s safe for use around pets.
You may also want to avoid humidifiers that incorporate essential oils. Certain essential oils can be toxic to cats, whether inhaled or applied topically. Essential oil toxicity can lead to respiratory failure, serious liver problems, or even death. There’s no harm in buying a humidifier that doubles as an essential oil diffuser, but avoid using that function with your cat around or only use essential oils that are safe for cats.
Finally, be careful where you place your humidifier. Portable models can generally be placed on a desk, counter, dresser, or table. Just make sure you put it somewhere your cat can’t jump up and knock it over. You should also be sure to keep the cord out of reach – especially if your cat has a habit of chewing on things like this.
Bottom Line: Why Does My Cat Like the Humidifier?
Cats have been known to do some pretty strange things. They curl up in cardboard boxes instead of the expensive cat bed sitting one foot away. They obsess over the bird outside the window but show no interest in bird-shaped toys. Some even have a way of knowing exactly when it’s most inconvenient to throw up on the floor.
If you have a humidifier in your home, you shouldn’t be surprised to see your cat near it. Some cats will even go so far as to stick their faces right in front of the mist outlet. As long as you’ve chosen the right humidifier and use it safely, your cat shouldn’t be in any danger.