Feb. 27th, 2007

melstav: (badgerbadgerbadger)
Onyx likes it rough. He likes it when you wrestle with him. He REALLY likes it when you knead his skin. You know, like, grab a fist-full of cat-flesh kneading.

Marble, tho, will follow you into the kitchen, flop over onto the floor, and wriggle around on the linoleum. If you grab him by the belly, you can drag him around the floor like a dust mop. If you don't want to move around much, you can slide him around in a semi-circular pattern. For some reason, he seems to really enjoy this.

Now, picture this: Cat flops over in front of you on the linoleum. You reach down and grab him by the middle and start sliding him around the floor, and he's purring like crazy.

It's mid-to-late February, and highs outside have been only a few degrees above freezing. This means that the air is pretty dry, and thus, it's easy to build a static charge. I'm sure we've all done the "rub a balloon on a sweater or random furry household pet and it'll stick to anything" (the balloon, not the pet)

When you build a static charge on a cat, it's stored in the cat's body. Since there aren't that many places you can grab a cat and actually be touching skin (unless it's hairless) you'll have an insulating layer of fur between his body and your hand. Actually, it's probably more appropriate to think of the fur as a dielectric layer, as current will pass through it readily enough, once the voltage differential is high enough.

As you build up an electrical charge on the cat, his voltage potential goes up. (or down from zero to build a negative voltage, depending on the direction the electrons are flowing between him and the floor) Your potential is remaining relatively constant, so the longer you slide the cat around, the more differential you build between you.

Luckily, with a short-medium haired cat, it doesn't take much for the voltage to have built on the cat to the point where it will arc through the fur into your hand. This means taht, while you're sliding him around, you're getting frequent static discharges between the cat's
belly and your hand, but they're all pretty minor.

Marble certainly didn't seem to mind. I was sliding him on the floor.

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