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My cat, George Valentine, really enjoys being pet. However, when the air here in Canada gets very dry (mid-fall), this activity creates static charges. Once the petting starts giving him relentless shocks to his tender ears and nose, he gets quite upset and winces at each pet in anticipation. It isn't until late spring that he figures out the shocks are over and starts to relax again. This is unacceptable, because kitties like pets and George Valentine is a good boy.

What sort of arrangement or apparatus could I use to ground myself and/or George Valentine such that he's not subject to these dreaded ear and nose shocks? Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ Maintain proper humidity indoor maybe. Or attach a grounding wire to his tail (half-joking :). $\endgroup$
    – r13
    Nov 24, 2021 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ I guess it would, but I am not an expert, wouldn't hurt to try though :) $\endgroup$
    – r13
    Nov 24, 2021 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ buy an old-school anti-static gun like we used on vinyl records back in the day. $\endgroup$
    – Tiger Guy
    Nov 24, 2021 at 18:34
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    $\begingroup$ A word of warning about wrist straps: "Some wrist straps are "wireless" or "dissipative", and claim to protect against ESD without needing a ground wire, typically by air ionization or corona discharge. These are widely regarded as ineffective, if not fraudulent, and examples have been tested and shown not to work. Professional ESD standards all require wired wrist straps." en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…. $\endgroup$
    – r13
    Nov 24, 2021 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ Shave the cat :) :) $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 24, 2021 at 20:06

3 Answers 3

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Some ways to remove static electricity are:

  • Use a humidifier to humidify the air in the room where George Valentine gets petted.
  • If you have carpets or you sit in a fabric covered chair while petting George Valentine treat the carpets and the chair with anti static chemicals - usually via a spray.
  • Rub the upholstery of the chair with a dryer sheet
  • Moisturize your own skin, particularly on your hands

Alternatively, you could try to wear anti static gloves or an anti static wrist strap when petting George Valentine. When it comes to static electricity, despite you & George Valentine being potentially highly charged individuals (pun intended), George Valentine might not be the problem, it might be you or even the surroundings.

The other thing I would suggest is consider changing your petting style. If you are using long full body strokes while petting George Valentine that will definitely increase static electricity. Instead, try petting a smaller region using slow gentle strokes. Something such as slow, low intensity chin rubs or neck rubs. Then do another region and then maybe one or two long full body strokes and then go back to concentrating on a small region. Try this first. If it works it will save you effort and expense.

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One moderately practical method to reduce or remove static shocks while petting a feline would be to have a petting mat. It should be a fabric panel or similar substance with metallic threads.

conductive fabric

The above image from the linked Amazon page is a 20 cm square of fabric, 30% silver threads. Somewhat impractical to this concept is that at least one set of toe-beans must be in contact with the fabric while the critter is being petted.

Additionally, the petter should have one hand on the fabric while the pettee is enjoying the attention.

The concept behind this practice is that the activity of petting the cat creates a static build up in the human, an electrical potential difference between the two bodies. It does not discharge during the activity due to the dry air and insulating capacity of the feline fur.

The nose is not protected by this fur. Ostensibly, the toe-beans are not, providing a conductive path from the charging human to the feline during the activity, preventing build up and sudden sparking discharge.

Less practical would be to use an anti-static fabric spray spritzed in the air above the cat-petting volume, just prior to the activity. As these products are often quite fragrant, either party may object to the residual mist.

I've been overlooking the obvious all this time. Keep one finger on the cat's nose while petting. Okay, so much for practical. One finger on a toe?

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    $\begingroup$ This is good stuff. I see the importance of consistent bean-to-fabric contact. $\endgroup$
    – James Orr
    Nov 24, 2021 at 19:40
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    $\begingroup$ @JamesOrr It wouldn't necessarily go away since it is a fur covered animal but it would reduce it. Because static electricity can equalize with direct contact flesh and flesh, and fur and flesh, but not between fur and fur. When you pet you are rubbing fur against fur and the transferred charged stays where it is on the fur. The objective is to give the trapped charges an easier path to flow so they can easily equalize between themselves at lower voltages rather than trapping them and accumulating them to the point where the voltage needs to be high enough to spark. to equalize. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Nov 24, 2021 at 22:18
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    $\begingroup$ @JamesOrr Since fur is a difficult path, the best you can do is minimize the distance the charge must travel through the fur to get to some point where the path gets easy. Have you tried a conductive collar? I wonder if it would intercept the charge so it shorts out so it doesn't need to spark in his face. But it would potentially spark somewhere else less painful. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Nov 24, 2021 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ @JamesOrr, I've added an edit to explain. $\endgroup$
    – fred_dot_u
    Nov 25, 2021 at 1:36
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    $\begingroup$ If not connected to felis catus, there is a strong possibility that there will be a difference in potential between the two creatures, which is what causes the discharge. If the feline could be certainly grounded and the human could be certainly grounded, the results would be the same. Human skin contact provides the grounding with the bracelet. Conductive booties for the putty-tat? $\endgroup$
    – fred_dot_u
    Nov 25, 2021 at 1:48
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A thorny problem indeed. Try having a grounded terminal or surface available nearby, and touch it after each petting stroke so the charge cannot accumulate. Also try touching the kitty in a relatively insensitive zone (hard with kitties!) before beginning each petting stroke. Let us know here the results of your experiments!

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