When winter approaches, the air gets drier and cold, and flu season ramps up big time.
People start buying more cold medicine, hydration drinks, and humidifiers to help combat dry air and stuffy noses. But can humidifiers help cats like they can help humans?
Humidifiers can be beneficial for cats in some cases, like for cats with asthma, because they moisten the air.
Dry air tends to make asthma worse, giving your cats incredibly uncomfortable, stuffy noses.
However, it’s vital to use humidifiers appropriately with pets, as they can become hazardous to your cat in certain scenarios.
Before deciding to use a humidifier with your cat, it’s essential to know the benefits and potential risks. Plus, you need to determine if your cat really needs a humidifier, as in many cases, it isn’t necessary.
What Is A Humidifier?
With 8 million units installed every year, humidifiers have become a staple of the American household.
Despite their rising popularity, you may have yet to get acquainted with this appliance that could cleanse your cat’s nasal passages.
Humidifiers inject the air with moisture that alters the temperature and humidity of a room. Although most units utilize water, each runs off of electricity –a dangerous combination.
Be sure to keep any of these machines out of the reach of children and pets alike.
Each humidifier comes with a reservoir that stores water and releases it into a basin upon activation. A fan blows the water through a wicking filter and dispenses it as either warm or cool mist.
Best of all, these machines regulate your home’s temperature, dialing back or amping up whenever necessary to maintain the climate.
What Do Humidifiers Do?
While we now understand what humidifiers generally do, we have yet to determine why their inventors created them.
Shifting a room’s temperature and humidity is how humidifiers reach their ultimate goal: rejuvenating your body.
You’re not the only one that benefits from this – your pet appreciates their presence all the more.
Those regulated temperatures keep your cats warm in the wintertime and cool in the summer months. Our pets can’t shed clothing to keep off the heat or put on additional layers to ward off the chill.
Humidifiers consistently ensure that the entire household stays content in whatever weather comes your way.
Humidifiers do more than maintain the climate – they refresh your skin. Adding moisture into the air prevents skin from growing dry and itchy.
An important but understated purpose of humidifiers comes from their ability to fight off diseases.
Increased temperatures fight off airborne bacteria and viruses that could otherwise infect cats and their owners.
Do Cats Need Humidifiers?
At first glance, humidifiers can look like an unnecessary luxury unless there’s an illness on the loose. However, these machines can offer a lot more than their specialized skincare.
According to Cornell University, at least 1% of all cats in America suffer from acute or chronic asthma.
During wintertime, when the drier air increases the chance of asthma attacks, these machines could save your cat’s life.
Even if asthma itself doesn’t affect their daily lives, cats regularly rely on their sense of smell to survive. Any cat with asthma can suffer from clogged nasal passages day after day.
If they cannot detect a scent from their food, cats would sooner starve.
Cats have no means of reducing their own congestion or fending off asthma attacks. With 800,000 of our pets unable to help themselves, that responsibility falls to their owners.
Do Humidifiers Help Cats With Asthma?
While few could dispute the positive impact a humidifier could make, it’s always best to confirm our suspicions with science.
The American Society for Prevention of Animal Cruelty (ASPCA) believes that because dry air exacerbates asthma, humidifiers make a difference.
Asthma intensifies whenever its victim is in the vicinity of pollen, mold, or cigarette smoke.
Utilizing a humidifier can disperse smoke molecules, and its temperature regulation prevents mold growth in damp environments.
The air alone doesn’t trigger asthma. Stress plays an integral role in determining whether your cat’s body can fend off an impending attack or not.
Keeping our pets calm and content can prevent unexpected attacks.
Symptoms of Cat Asthma
How do you know if your cat has asthma? For those unfamiliar with the illness, there are numerous symptoms to keep an eye out for.
Minor symptoms include wheezing, weakness, lethargy, persistent coughing, or an abundance of mucus. While not life-threatening, these still inhibit the quality of a cat’s everyday life.
The symptoms to stay alert for include blue lips and gums or rapid and difficult breathing from an opened mouth.
If your cat suffers from any of these, seek immediate medical attention and keep your humidifier on at all times.
Which Humidifiers Are Safe for Cats?
Before purchasing a humidifier, it’s best to know your options, as some work better with pets than others. However, first, make sure you don’t already have a humidifier in your home’s HVAC system.
Some HVAC systems feature pre-installed humidifiers, so it might just be a matter of educating yourself as to how it works.
If you are unsure, consult your HVAC manual or speak with the installer or manufacturer of your unit.
But, if there’s no existing humidifier in your HVAC unit, then you can press on with purchasing a portable humidifier.
There are two main types of humidifiers that you can consider beyond cool-mist humidifiers: evaporative and ultrasonic.
How Evaporative Humidifiers Help Cats
Evaporative humidifiers are the most common type of humidifier available to the general public. These humidifiers utilize a fan to distribute humidity throughout their surrounding area.
Depending on the temperature you want to create, evaporative models come in two different variations: warm and cool mist humidifiers.
Inhabitants of colder climates could more readily assume a warm mist humidifier could serve their needs.
Boiled water inside of these models destroys the germs surrounding them, making them a near necessity during flu season.
Drawbacks of Evaporative Humidifiers For Cats
However, that boiled water also proves to be an evaporative humidifier’s downfall. No one could describe these humidifiers as sturdy.
A misplaced gesture, an adventurous child, or an unknowing pet could easily knock over the appliance.
If the machine tips over or opens up, the water inside could easily scald and scar anyone it touches. Cats, who do not know better, may even try to drink the water pouring out.
To prevent your pets from burns, keep humidifiers where no one but you can access them.
Because of this possibility, many pet owners opt for a cool-mist humidifier. Although cool mist versions won’t get rid of bacteria, they’re still helpful with eliminating dry air and easing conditions like asthma.
How Ultrasonic Humidifiers Help Cats
Evaporative humidifiers are not the only option on the market. As technology continued to advance, engineers invented a new variation of humidifiers: ultrasonic.
These machines vibrate at extremely high frequencies to generate droplets of moisture that they then dispense into the air.
Despite their shaking, ultrasonic humidifiers produce no noise. Or rather, they do not produce any noise that we can hear. The frequency of their sound waves can, however, affect our pet’s ears.
Before buying an ultrasonic model, be sure that you can test it out with your pet beforehand. Return home immediately, turn the humidifier on, and watch how your pet reacts to it (if at all).
Should they show any signs of discomfort or even recognition of the noise, return the humidifier for a refund.
Extra Tips For Using Humidifiers With Cats
If you plan to use a humidifier with your cat, make sure to monitor your cat while the humidifier is in operation. At least do so the first few times until your cat is used to it.
After all, to your cat, a humidifier probably looks like some strange fishbowl, and they won’t be able to resist investigating.
Choose a humidifier that has a quiet operation and isn’t overly large. Your cat doesn’t need a large humidifier, and if your curious kitty knocks it over, it won’t cause injury.
Look for humidifiers that are sturdy and not prone to toppling over easily.
Can I put essential oils in the humidifier to use with my cat?
Essential oils have grown in popularity over the years, helping humans do everything from sleep to breathing easier. But, this doesn’t mean they’re safe for pets.
Prolonged exposure to oils can harm your cat. Ingesting them can be fatal, and inhaling them over time can cause serious complications.
This goes doubly so if incorporating oils like Vicks VapoSteam into a warm mist humidifier.
The nutmeg oils inside already pose a threat to cats when inhaled – but ingesting them amps up the risk. Therefore, don’t put anything in your cat’s humidifier but water.
What kind of water do I put in my cat’s humidifier?
You use the same water in your cat’s humidifier as you do your own–distilled water. The reasoning is, if you use tap water, the humidifier can potentially release the minerals in the water into the air.
These minerals could cause health issues if inhaled.
Therefore, use distilled water so you won’t have any unwanted elements going into your lungs. Plus, using tap water in your humidifier can leave mineral deposits on the interior.
This becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.
Stacy is a lifelong animal lover who truly believes life just isn’t complete without pets. She’s had pets her whole life (including three dogs and a cat living under the same roof, somewhat harmoniously). She currently resides in NOLA with her husband, son, and two pups, Scooby “Dooby” Doo and Zoey. Stacy always makes a point to learn everything she can about her fur babies, and she has been writing about the pet-parent life for over two years.
The basic process of a humidifier adding moisture to the air is not harmful to your pets. In fact, this added moisture is what can help ease allergies, soothe skin, make breathing easier, and perhaps even help with your pet's snoring.Are humidifiers good for congested cats? ›
Put your cat in a fairly small room with a cool-mist humidifier and use it just the same as you would for a child a couple of times a day. That not only helps break up the congestion, it moistens inflamed or tender eyes and nostrils and make them feel better.Are humidifiers toxic to animals? ›
Not only are humidifiers safe and beneficial for dogs, but they also benefit children and other household pets.Why do cats like humidifiers? ›
Why do cats love it so much? For one, it seems like they know just how good it is for them! “Because cats groom themselves specifically to cool their bodies, a cold mist humidifier will help bring them heat relief and improve the overall quality of their skin and coat,” Everlasting Comfort writes on their site.Is an air purifier or humidifier better for cats with asthma? ›
Make sure your cat's environment is well ventilated to allow circulation of air. Dry air can also be a trigger for asthma attacks. To help keep your cat's environment comfortable, use a humidifier.Can you use essential oils in a humidifier around cats? ›
It's best to avoid diffusing essential oils around dogs and cats. In addition to inhalation exposure to potentially toxic essential oils, microdroplets of oils could collect on your pet's fur.Can humidifier help cat respiratory infection? ›
To help your cat feel better while they have a cold, increase the humidity in your house by running a humidifier or vaporizer. If your cat has a stuffy nose you can use a warm, damp cloth to gently wipe their nose.Will a humidifier help my cat breathe better? ›
Using a humidifier in combination with a space heater can go a long way to keep a room and its occupants warm and safe from the cold. In the case of cats with asthma or allergies, sufficiently humid air has the added benefit of improving breathing.Is a warm or cool mist humidifier better for cats? ›
Dry air encourages asthma attacks, so a humidifier is a valuable tool to ward off complications, especially during the winter months. If you are a cat owner, ultrasonic cool mist humidifiers are the best type of humidifier to remedy these issues.What are the dangers of humidifier? ›
Dirty humidifiers can especially cause problems for people with asthma and allergies. But even in healthy people, dirty humidifiers have the potential to trigger flu-like symptoms or even lung infections when the contaminated mist or steam is released into the air.
Only water should be put in the tank of the humidifier. With most humidifiers, adding essential oils to the tank can breakdown the tank plastic and ruin the internal parts of the humidifiers. As an alternative, use Vicks VapoPads and Vicks VapoSteam with select humidifiers to get soothing Vicks vapors.Can cats get sick from humidity? ›
High humidity combined with heat can put your cat at risk of heatstroke. On humid days, keep your home cool with fans or air conditioning. Outside, an inexpensive water mister can give cats a little relief. Give a little more TLC to special needs cats.Is Dry air bad for cats? ›
Without enough moisture in the air, skin problems can occur. The most common skin problem in the wintertime is dry flaking skin. Damage to kitty paws are a problem only for cats that go outside during the winter cold and ice.What essential oils are cat safe? ›
The best essential oils that are safe for cats are rosemary, copaiba, helichrysum, oregano, frankincense and cedarwood essential oil. Cats can also tolerate chamomile, lavender, thyme and valerian essential oils at very diluted concentrations.What's the best to help breathing with asthma in cats? ›
To treat feline asthma, veterinarians will usually prescribe corticosteroids to reduce inflammation in the lungs, with or without bronchodilators to dilate the airways. Both of these types of drugs come in oral, inhaled, and injectable forms.Which is better air humidifier or purifier? ›
While a humidifier can add moisture to the air, it is not designed to remove pollutants or allergens. If you want to improve the air quality in your home or office, an air purifier is a better choice.What is better for allergies humidifier or air purifier? ›
While they both have their merits, a good air purifier is the better solution when it comes to allergies. Humidifiers can alleviate symptoms and help your body cope during allergy season. Air purifiers, on the other hand, can actively remove allergens from the air you breathe at home.Is peppermint humidifier safe for cats? ›
Many essential oils, such as eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon, citrus, peppermint, pine, wintergreen, and ylang ylang are straight up toxic to pets. These are toxic whether they are applied to the skin, used in diffusers or licked up in the case of a spill.Is peppermint safe for cats? ›
Many liquid potpourri products and essential oils, including oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen, and ylang ylang, are poisonous to cats. Both ingestion and skin exposure can be toxic.What essential oils are good for cats with respiratory infections? ›
Eucalyptus and Cardamom are great for upper respiratory infections or congestion in cats. Lavender or a blend that contains Lavender, Vetiver and Ylang Ylang as well as others, is a great help to my dog, Lilly, for storms or anything else that makes her anxious.
"Most cats with an uncomplicated upper respiratory infection can be treated symptomatically at home." Cats with nasal or airway congestion may benefit from increased environmental humidification, such as being taken into a steamy bathroom for 10-15 minutes several times per day.Is steam good for a congested cat? ›
Congestion. Congested cats may not eat because they can't smell their food. Using a vaporizer or placing the cat in a steam-filled bathroom for a few minutes a day can help clear congestion.How can I help my cat breathe better at home? ›
Antibiotics may be required to treat your cat's condition so that they can breathe easier. Humidifiers and steam can help loosen mucus and make nasal breathing easier as your cat recovers.Can you use Vicks vapor on cats? ›
Camphor is commonly found in topical pain or arthritis body rubs. Examples of some common trade names containing camphor include Carmex, Tiger Balm, Vicks VapoRub, Campho-Phenique, etc. Camphor is readily absorbed across the skin, and should never be applied to dogs or cats due to risks for poisoning.Is Vicks VapoRub safe for cats to inhale? ›
No! Vicks has essential oils which will damage your cat's liver and kidneys. If your cat has trouble breathing get a vaporizer from the pharmacy and just use plain water in it.How do you unblock a cat naturally? ›
Water consumption is an important part of flushing debris from your cat's system and preventing blockage; try offering them water from a drinking fountain instead of a bowl, flavoring a second water bowl with some tuna juice and switching them to canned food if they currently eat dry food.Is there a nasal decongestant for cats? ›
Decongestants can be helpful: diphenhydramine HCl 2-4 mg/kg PO q8h, or dimenhydrinate 4 mg/cat PO q8h, or pseudoephedrine 1 mg/kg PO q8h. Nasal decongestant drops are challenging to administer, but can be very helpful: 0.05% xylometazoline (1 drop into each nostril SID for three days only to avoid rebound congestion).How do you unblock a cat's airways? ›
Medicinal Treatments for Breathing Difficulties in Cats
Your veterinarian may prescribe two drugs to help make it easier for your cat to breathe: typically an anti-inflammatory like prednisolone or fluticasone, and an airway dilator like albuterol or terbutaline.
Humidifier risks and precautions
Warm mist humidifiers may burn children if touched. Cool mist humidifiers may disperse hazardous minerals and other particles that irritate the lungs. Distilled water is the safest type of water to use with a humidifier.
They're also more effective in the treatment of colds because they can shrink nasal passages. One drawback is that cool mist humidifiers are a bit noisier, which can be an issue for light sleepers — plus, the cool mist of air isn't ideal during cold weather months.
For safety, always use cool-mist humidifiers for children. Hot water or steam from a warm-mist humidifier or steam vaporizer can burn a child if he or she gets too close. Hot water might also cause burns in the event of a spill. Humidifiers add moisture to the air.Who should not use a humidifier? ›
While using a humidifier can help with dry sinuses, it can also cause harm. Dust mite and mold growth is promoted more in humid environments, so if people are allergic to dust and mold, or if they have asthma, using a humidifier could aggravate these conditions.Can you use tap water in a humidifier? ›
Many people automatically use tap water in a humidifier as it is easy and accessible but this does not come recommended by manufacturers. This is because tap water contains many invisible minerals, including magnesium, which can create buildup in your humidifier, resulting in limescale and mould.What is the healthiest type of humidifier? ›
The type you choose is ultimately up to you, but in general, cool mist humidifiers are the safest option (especially if you have children or pets around), according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Warm mist humidifiers, meanwhile, run hot and have the potential to cause burns if you get too close.Should a humidifier be placed high or low? ›
The higher up off the floor the humidifier is placed the better. It produces a mist that has to get mixed with the air. When the humidifier is placed on the floor, the mist has no chance to get mixed with the air and it causes wet floors. Try to put it on a nightstand or a table.Does bacteria grow in humidifiers? ›
Humidifiers are a great way to moisturize the air in your home as outside temperatures plummet, helping with chapped skin, allergies and cold and flu symptoms in children and adults. But without regular upkeep, humidifiers can breed dangerous mold and bacteria and do more harm than good.How do I keep bacteria from growing in my humidifier? ›
Hydrogen Peroxide. An antibacterial and anti-fungal, hydrogen peroxide is inexpensive and works very well. Half a teaspoon in the water reservoir every time you fill it should prevent mold from growing and bacteria.Can humidifiers hurt cats? ›
The basic process of a humidifier adding moisture to the air is not harmful to your pets. In fact, this added moisture is what can help ease allergies, soothe skin, make breathing easier, and perhaps even help with your pet's snoring.Do cats like humid air? ›
High humidity makes it very hard for him to stay cool during those warm summer months. High temperatures are bad enough on your kitty, but most can manage well even when the thermometer hits the 90s as long as the humidity is low.What makes indoor cats sick? ›
Reasons for a cat being sick include hair balls, eating too much or too quickly, eating new or unusual food, an allergic reaction to food and parasites. Other causes include gastrointestinal conditions, pancreatitis, heat stroke and ingesting poisonous substances.
Ultimately, your cat will decide whether she prefers dry or wet cat food. Purina nutritionists recommend feeding a combination of wet and dry food, though. This helps ensure she gets plenty of moisture in her diet, plus the dental benefits of dry food, all while adding variety to keep her interested.What is better for cats wet or dry? ›
Wet food is more expensive and less easy to use but can be beneficial in cats prone to lower urinary tract disease, constipation and that are overweight. Dry food can be a very efficient way to provide calories in thin cats with food volume limitations and allows for the use of food puzzles and food toy dispensers.Can I use a diffuser around my cat? ›
If you have a bird, you should avoid using an essential oil diffuser in your home. The ASPCA says essential oils and cats are not friends. This is because cats are especially susceptible to toxicity build up as their livers do not contain an enzyme needed to break down the oils.Is lavender oil toxic to cats? ›
While a lavender plant itself isn't toxic to your cat, formulations from the plant can be. Your cat can eat a lot of lavender and may suffer only an upset stomach, but on the other hand, lavender essential oil can be deadly for your pet because of its concentration.Is lavender oil safe for cats to breathe? ›
Unfortunately, the lavender plant and essential oils are toxic to cats and can lead to severe symptoms.Is it safe for cats to use air diffuser? ›
If you have a bird, you should avoid using an essential oil diffuser in your home. The ASPCA says essential oils and cats are not friends. This is because cats are especially susceptible to toxicity build up as their livers do not contain an enzyme needed to break down the oils.Can dry air affect my cat? ›
Dry air can also have your kitty coughing and sneezing more. Dry airways and mucous membranes are more prone to irritation. Irritation leads to coughing and sneezing, coughing and sneezing leads to irritation, so you can see there is a vicious cycle.Are warm mist humidifiers safe for pets? ›
Yes! Humidifiers are safe for your pooch and would cause no harm to them in any way. In fact, humidifiers are more than safe and can provide your dog with many benefits that will support their overall health and well-being. There are two main types of humidifiers: warm mist and cool mist.What diffuser scents are safe for cats? ›
The best essential oils that are safe for cats are rosemary, copaiba, helichrysum, oregano, frankincense and cedarwood essential oil. Cats can also tolerate chamomile, lavender, thyme and valerian essential oils at very diluted concentrations.Are passive diffusers safe for cats? ›
"As the chemical ingredients could be toxic if inhaled, ingested, or lands on the skin." She says that includes fragrant candles, stick diffusers or plug-ins. Passive diffusers are generally considered a safer option around the house with pets, but Dr Hoolahan still recommends you chat with your vet prior to use.
Many liquid potpourri products and essential oils, including oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen, and ylang ylang, are poisonous to cats. Both ingestion and skin exposure can be toxic.What humidity is bad for cats? ›
High humidity is just as dangerous
Ideally, you should aim for less than 60% humidity. Having the AC on can help you lower the humidity. That's why ACs are a better choice than fans if you have pets. Fans do help to move the air around, but aren't as effective at keeping your pets cool.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the humidity in your home ideally should remain between 30% and 50%, a level that best suits both humans and their cats. If the humidity in your home is too low, it can cause dry skin, itchy eyes, and irritate your nasal passages and throat.Why not use warm mist humidifier? ›
For safety, always use cool-mist humidifiers for children. Hot water or steam from a warm-mist humidifier or steam vaporizer can burn a child if he or she gets too close. Hot water might also cause burns in the event of a spill. Humidifiers add moisture to the air.What is difference between cool mist and warm mist humidifier? ›
A warm mist humidifier heats water to produce steam that humidifies the air. A cool mist humidifier releases tiny water droplets into the air.Is it OK to inhale mist from humidifier? ›
The main safety concern with cool-mist humidifiers is with the mineral deposits, mold, and other contaminants they may emit into the air. Inhaling these things over time may irritate airways and create further breathing issues.