It’s officially winter.

Now that the windows are closed and the indoor heating is on, we have a lot of static charge building up in our homes. This affects not only us but our pets.

Static is caused when two different objects with opposing (positive and a negative) ion charge are rubbed together. The electrons from one object is then transferred to the other causing them to take on the same charge. Just like magnets, when you have two objects with the same charge, they will repel one another, making the hair stand on end.

The minute the temperature dips and the air dries up, electrons, which are negatively-charged, fly off  hair, leaving the strands with positive charges that resist one another. Thus cats with thin, limp, fine and otherwise vulnerable hair are hit hard with static.

Here are some steps to avoid a static kitty.

1. Get rid of your plastic combs or brushes. Plastic is such an excellent conductor of electricity, that in high school experiments to show how to create static and sparks,  they use cat hair (no kidding) and a plastic rod rubbed together (that’s also why the rub a ballon on your hair and stick it to the wall trick works so well). Do not torture your cat by duplicating a high school experiment for your grooming routine.

2. Do wash your cat, (as there is nothing more unsightly than a greasy but staticy cat), in a effective, cleansing cat appropriate shampoo (like Chubbs Bars) but add a very l-i-g-h-t mist of Argan oil while still damp before you blow dry. You cannot add any Argan oil unless your cat is squeaky clean (literally) during the final rinse. You don’t want to increase grease to your cat by adding conditioner or oil to still greasy hair. Too little argan oil is much better than too much.

3. Before brushing, lightly mist with water, preferably distilled water. It will neutralize ions and reduce hair breakage. This pre-step should be done year-round as part of your grooming routine.

4. Blow dry with a ion reducing blowdryer. It does make a difference.

5. Use metal combs or grooming tools. They will absorb much of the static charge build-up. In fact you can gently rub your cat with a metal clothes hanger it will calm the hair during a major static attack. Introduce it carefully, as you don’t want to spook your cat.

6. If you have a major static attack happening, I would do the following: mist lightly with water, use a metal comb that I have pre-stroked with a dryer sheet. Do NOT rub the dryer sheet on your cat. Remember they lick themselves and will ingest chemicals otherwise.

7. Reduce static in your home by increasing the humidity in the air. This can be done by using a humidifier, or running a steamy shower. If you have an ongoing static problem, you need to add moisture to the air. It will make the home environment more comfortable for your cat and you.

8. Have your cat professionally groomed to remove impurities that attract dirt and restore a healthy balance of ions in the skin and hair.