Are Humidifiers Good For Cats?

By: Evan Scoboria, Last updated: June 24, 2023

Cats, like humans, can benefit from the right amount of humidity in the air. A humidifier can be helpful, especially for cats with respiratory issues. However, it's essential to understand how a cat's respiratory system works and to consider safety precautions when using a humidifier around pets. Both cold and hot mist humidifiers can be utilized for cats, but they come with their pros and cons. This article delves into the benefits and safety of humidifiers for cats and the differences between hot and cold mist humidifiers.

Cat and Humidifier

How Do Humidifiers Benefit Cats?

Humidifiers provide several benefits for cats. Adding moisture to the air can alleviate common respiratory symptoms, such as dry coughs and congestion in cold, dry months. The increased humidity also benefits the cat's skin health, preventing dryness and subsequent itching or flaking. For cats with allergies, humidifiers can help by reducing the number of airborne allergens and dust. Furthermore, some vets recommend humidifiers for cats with upper respiratory infections to help them breathe easier.

Understanding a Cat's Respiratory System

Cats, like humans, depend on their respiratory systems to bring in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Their nasal passages, trachea, bronchi, and lungs play vital roles in this process. The cat's respiratory system is sensitive to air quality and humidity changes. When the air is dry or filled with irritants, a cat can experience discomfort or respiratory distress. For instance, dry air can cause dryness in the cat's respiratory tract, leading to symptoms like coughing or sneezing. On the other hand, overly moist air can foster mold and mildew growth, which can also irritate the cat's respiratory system. Thus, maintaining an optimal level of humidity can contribute to the health of a cat's respiratory system.

Are Humidifiers Safe for Cats?

Cool mist humidifiers are safe for cats as they don't emit hot steam that can burn their sensitive skin or cause respiratory issues. On the other hand, warm mist humidifiers can be potentially dangerous for cats as they release hot water vapor that can cause burns if knocked over or if a curious cat gets too close. 

In addition, some humidifiers come with fragrances or allow for the use of essential oils. While these scents may be pleasing to humans, they can harm cats. Cats have a highly sensitive sense of smell and can be easily overwhelmed by strong fragrances. Some essential oils, such as tea tree oil and eucalyptus oil, can be toxic to cats and cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and difficulty breathing.

Therefore, it's important to use caution when using humidifiers around cats and avoid using fragrances or essential oils that may harm them.

Hot vs. Cold Mist Humidifiers

Both hot and cold mist humidifiers can be beneficial for cats. Hot mist humidifiers, known as steam vaporizers, heat water to create steam. This can help alleviate congestion and soothe respiratory discomfort. However, they pose a burn risk to cats if they come too close or knock over the device.

Cold mist humidifiers, including ultrasonic and evaporative types, emit a cool mist into the air. They can help maintain optimal humidity levels without the burn risk, making them safer around pets. However, they may be a bit noisier, potentially disturbing sensitive cats.

In either case, the humidifier should be placed out of the cat's reach to prevent accidents and should not be used with additives such as essential oils that can harm cats. Proper cleaning and maintaining the humidifier are also vital to avoid bacteria or mold growth.

Essential Oils and Fragrances

Essential oils and fragrances can be dangerous for cats. It's important to remember that cats have a heightened sense of smell, and certain scents can be overwhelming or toxic. For example, oils such as tea tree, peppermint, and citrus can cause skin irritation, vomiting, and even liver damage in cats. Additionally, candles and air fresheners can release chemicals harmful to feline respiratory systems. So, if you're a cat owner, it's best to avoid using these products in your home or to keep them out of your furry friend's reach.

How to Use a Humidifier Safely if You Have Cats

Taking some safety precautions is essential if you have cats and want to use a humidifier. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Keep the humidifier out of reach: Cats are curious creatures and may try to play with the humidifier. To avoid accidents, keep the humidifier out of reach of your furry friends.
  2. Use distilled water: Tap water can contain minerals that can build up in the humidifier and create a breeding ground for bacteria. Distilled water can help prevent this and protect your cats from harmful bacteria.
  3. Clean the humidifier regularly: Regular cleaning is vital to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and maintenance.
  4. Monitor your cats: Keep an eye on your cats when the humidifier is in use. If you notice discomfort or respiratory issues, please turn off the humidifier and consult your veterinarian.

Following these simple tips, you can safely use a humidifier with your furry friends in your home.


Maintaining proper humidity levels can benefit cats, particularly those with respiratory issues. Both hot and cold mist humidifiers can be used, but they each have their considerations. Regardless of the type of humidifier used, safety precautions should be taken to ensure the device is out of reach to prevent accidents. Keeping the unit clean is essential to avoid the potential growth of bacteria or mold. Please always consult with a vet if your cat is having health issues.