I live in an area with very dry air, especially during winter weather. While the low humidity bothers me at times, it makes life really difficult for my allergic cat.
The cold and dry environment causes my kitty a whole slew of problems, from coughing and runny nose to dull and brittle fur. All of this had me asking myself, are humidifiers safe for cats?
Yes, they are — and a humidifier has done a whole lot of good for my cat!
You do have to be cautious about where and how you use the unit to avoid making your cat sick, though.
I put together this guide to tell you everything you need to know about safely using a humidifier around your cat.
Are Humidifiers Completely Safe for Cats?
So, are humidifiers safe for cats? Yes!
Their primary function is simply to add more moisture to indoor air. That isn’t harmful to cats in any way.
In fact, a humidifier can improve your cat’s (and your) quality of life. If your kitty suffers from allergies, dry skin, asthma, and other health issues aggravated by dry air, humidifiers are a safe and healthy way to relieve those symptoms.
My unit sure has helped my cat!
You have to bear a few things in mind when picking the right type of humidifier for you and your kitty, though. I know there are a lot of options and they can get a little bit confusing. Let’s look at the most popular humidifiers.
Warm Mist Humidifiers
Warm mist humidifiers create steam by boiling water. This kind of unit is effective for introducing moisture and warmth to cold and dry air, particularly during winter months. Personally, though, I would not trust a warm mist humidifier around my cat.
If your kitty is anything like mine, it will go poke around the new weird machine. Curious cats may attempt to play with the humidifier and burn themselves on the hot steam. Or, in a nightmare scenario, your cat could knock over the humidifier and spill the hot water on themselves, you, or your children.
Cool Mist Humidifiers
Cool mist humidifiers — such as evaporative humidifiers — are my recommendation for any homes with furry friends. They don’t have a heating element and instead produce refreshing cold water vapor through various methods. Even if your cat knocks the unit over, there’s a much lower chance of injury and serious damage, as long as you’ve placed the humidifier correctly.
An ultrasonic humidifier is a cool mist humidifier variant that humidifies the air by producing tiny water droplets through ultrasonic sound vibrations. Ultrasonic humidifiers are quiet, effective, and have low maintenance and energy requirements.
Although you won’t hear the ultrasonic sounds of the humidifier, your cat probably will. Some cats could find the noise irritating.
Ultrasonic units are also generally lighter than most others, so it’s easy for an annoyed cat to tip it over. Please don’t ask me how I found that out.
Often used in larger homes or homes with multiple allergy sufferers, whole-home humidifiers do not need as much babysitting as standard ones. They are not as easy for your cat to mess with due to their huge size (especially if you have a furnace humidifier). They are more expensive to buy and can have additional high installation costs, though.
How Is a Humidifier Beneficial for Your Cat?
Any type of humidifier can bring a whole slew of potential benefits to your beloved cat. Here are the most significant benefits you’re likely to see.
Helps with Nasal Blockage
My cat is really sensitive to dry air. It dries out his sinuses and nasal passages, and then he gets a stuffy and runny nose because his body is trying to keep his airway moist. My humidifier has made his breathing easier because it clears out his nose.
The increased moisture in the air thins the mucus in a cat’s sinuses, which helps remove blockages and reduces persistent coughing. This is especially helpful for cats with respiratory issues or in the winter when cat flu and increased blockages occur. Humidified air can also relieve cat asthma (although be careful not to let the humidity get too high with an asthmatic kitty).
Moistens Dry Skin
Dry skin, eczema, and other skin conditions can affect both cats and cat owners — and dry air only makes them worse. My cat had dry skin and brittle fur from his allergies, and my humidifier has helped quite a bit with those problems.
Using a humidifier can help moisturize your cat’s skin, providing relief for dry and itchy skin and reducing dandruff and other symptoms to make them more comfortable.
Air humidity will also keep a cat’s fur coat moist and prevents brittle hairs. My cat’s coat has looked a lot more luscious ever since I started using a humidifier.
This was a big one for me since a lot of my cat’s issues are due to his allergies. Now, a humidifier has not cured my cat but, together with an air purifier, it has made his life much more comfortable.
Humidifiers with filtering systems can help tackle dust, pollen, and other pollutants in the air. This can help ease allergy symptoms such as sneezing, dry and itchy eyes, runny nose, and allergic bronchitis in felines.
Still, I recommend asking for a vet’s advice before buying a humidifier for an allergic cat.
Improves Immune System
Cats are more susceptible to colds, cat flu, upper respiratory infections, COVID-19, and other illnesses than many other pets, like dogs. I know — we all like to think of our cats as little super survivors, but facts are facts. (1)
A humidifier can maintain your home’s humidity levels in the 30-50% range, which makes viruses less active and hinders their survival. (2) As a result, your kitty’s immune system can fight them off easier.
Snoring can seriously disrupt a cat’s sleep patterns — and you know how essential good sleep is for feline health. No matter how cute my cat’s little snores are, I’d rather he gets the rest he needs.
As humidifiers add moisture to the air, they help thin and dislodge dried and packed-up mucus in your cat’s nasal passages. They can reduce irritation and sinus swelling, providing relief for a snoring kitty.
Cats and humidity — What Are the Risks?
Although humidifiers can improve your cat’s health, they aren’t without their risks. Here I will tell you the most significant humidifier hazards you should watch out for.
A humidifier could increase relative humidity levels in your home too much and decrease air quality, which could negatively impact your cat’s breathing (or yours, as I found out the hard way once). This is especially dangerous if your cat suffers from feline asthma. Too-high humidity can trigger an asthma attack, so monitor the humidity levels carefully, preferably with a hygrometer.
Mold and Bacterial Growth
In addition to causing difficulty breathing, excessive humidity may result in mold and bacterial growth around your home. Air laden with mold spores and harmful bacteria is not healthy for your feline friend or you and could lead to serious respiratory infections.
Clean your cat’s humidifier thoroughly with water and vinegar at least once a week. I also recommend emptying, rinsing, and completely drying the water tank once a day.
If you don’t take good care of your humidifier, it could become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria and spew these pollutants into the air. Naturally, they can make your cat sick — and nobody wants that.
Additionally, poorly cleaned and filterless ultrasonic humidifiers could result in mineral emissions from tap water, which spread white mineral dust all over your home. That’s especially bad for allergic kitties, like mine. Always use distilled water with any kind of humidifier.
Burns and Scalds
Avoid warm mist humidifiers in your home as they boil water to produce hot steam. Playful or inquisitive cats could be drawn to the hissing water spout of a warm mist humidifier and seriously scald themselves — which could lead to them knocking over the device filled with boiling water. Take my advice and buy a cool humidifier for a cat home.
A cat may knock over and spill any humidifier they can get to. The spilled water will not only soak your valuables but could also create an electrical hazard if it gets to wall outlets or electronics.
Always keep your humidifier away from a cat’s reach. I put mine on a tall side table that I keep well away from anything my cat could use to jump on it.
Cats are sensitive creatures and a whirring or hissing humidifier could cause them unnecessary stress. This can happen even with a seemingly silent ultrasonic device — your cat may hear the sound it produces even if you can’t.
You should test how your cat responds to humidifiers before introducing one to your home on a permanent basis. Mine doesn’t care about the noise (or he hides his annoyance really well) but I can’t vouch for your kitty.
Essential Oil Poisoning
Essential oils may be fashionable for adding fragrances to your home, but you should never use them around cats or other animals. Many essential oils are lethally toxic to cats. Don’t harm your furry friends and avoid using these chemicals. (3)
Precautions To Take When Using Humidifiers Around Cats
Humidifiers are safe around cats as long as you use them right. Here are my 6 main considerations to keep in mind when bringing a humidifier into a cat home.
1. Find a Proper Place
Cats have a habit of getting into seemingly impossible places (I know mine does). Try to place your humidifier at a central location that’s high up from the floor and away from other furniture. A steady and waterproof desk or stand is often the best option.
2. Use a Quiet Humidifier
As I mentioned, cats have incredible hearing and loud humidifiers can bring much unnecessary stress. Choose a humidifier with a low decibel level and make sure you can return the device if it bothers your furry friend. I kept my receipt at hand for a long time until I was sure my cat was fine with the device.
3. Go for a Sturdy and Durable Humidifier
A heavier humidifier with a low center of gravity and a stable base will go a long way to prevent spills and injuries caused by curious felines. When picking my humidifier, I looked for a model that’s wider than it’s taller to make it less likely for my cat to flip it over.
4. Don’t Add Fragrance to Your Humidifier
Essential oils are not safe for cats. Don’t add essential oils to your humidifier, as you could make your cat sick — or much worse. Additionally, essential oils will damage most humidifiers.
5. Open A Window More Let Stale Air Out
If your home doesn’t have good air circulation, crack a window open every now and then. It may seem counterintuitive while using your humidifier, but it can help prevent the humidity level in your home from getting too high. However, if you have air conditioning, it’s best to keep the windows shut to not mess with the AC.
6. Buy A Hygrometer
You have to maintain your home’s humidity at a healthy 30-50% range to protect your cat’s health. A hygrometer measures the amount of moisture in the air and lets you know when you should and shouldn’t run your humidifier. This was an invaluable purchase to help my allergic cat.
How to Choose a Cat-Friendly Humidifier
A stable, heavy, and compact humidifier is best for homes with cats. This makes them harder to push over during moments of play or curiosity and minimizes the chance of injury.
- Noise Level
Check the decibel level of the humidifiers you’re interested in before buying one. Try to pick a model that’s as whisper-quiet as possible.
- Warm Vs. Cold Mist
Cool mist models are the best humidifiers for a home with cats. A cool mist humidifier minimizes the chances of burns and trips to the vet should your curious cat accidentally knock it over.
- Filter or no filter
Filtered humidifiers are more expensive and need more maintenance, but they can help reduce air pollutants and ease cat allergy symptoms. Compare filtered or unfiltered humidifiers and ask for veterinary advice before you buy.
Choose a programmable humidifier with a timer so you can safely leave the device running around your cat while you head off for errands or work. Pick a model with a wide timer range so you can always set it to the perfect setting.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
Is humidity bad for cats?
Humidity is not bad for cats — it is just water particles in the air. In fact, humidity can help improve your cat’s health and help it relax. However, you should make sure that your home air doesn’t get excessively humid.
Should I leave my cat humidifier on all day?
Do not leave your humidifier on all day without supervision. Overly humid air can be harmful to cats and may trigger cat asthma attacks, cause mold growth, and increase the levels of the cat flu virus. I recommend buying a humidifier with a timer function and an in-built humidity monitor.
Humidifiers are an excellent investment that can bring many health benefits to your cat — and you. My allergic cat is much happier and his health has improved with a humidifier in the house.
However, pet owners must be cautious and mindful while choosing the right humidifier for their homes. Cats are sensitive, and the wrong device could do you more harm than good.
This guide will help you find a humidifier that makes your cat healthy and content while avoiding any possible risks and pitfalls. With the right device, your little kitty will soon be purring much more happily in your lap — just like mine.