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Why Do Cats Like Dryer Sheets? Causes & Alternative Options

Do you like to use dryer sheets when you do your laundry? They make your clothes smell nice, feel soft, and remove static from clothing. Who doesn’t want fresh laundry? As it turns out, cats like dryer sheets, too.

Dryer sheets are semi-rough, smell good, and slide around easily on hard flooring. A bored cat can easily have a ball with a dryer sheet. People are also using dryer sheets to repel pet fur on furniture. Some even use a dryer sheet on their pets’ fur to remove static buildup. However, dryer sheets can be a big problem with pets.

divider-catclaw1 Why Dryer Sheets Wreak Havoc on Cats

Think back to high school chemistry, if you can. Atoms and molecules are constantly losing and gaining electrons, right?

Dryer sheets are cationic detergents, where the active part of the molecule is a positive ion charge. This is important because of how the detergent acts and reacts. The positive charge in fabric softener and dryer sheets helps neutralize the clothing, removing static.

Dryer Sheet
Image Credit: Nathan Antonino, Shutterstock

So, What Does This Have to Do With Cats?

Cationic detergents are powerful corrosive agents. They can easily cause damage to the eyes, skin, and digestive tract. Cats have impeccable grooming habits, so any contact with a dryer sheet will cause a cat to spread the chemicals around its body.

What to Do if Your Cat Eats a Dryer Sheet

Typical signs of cationic detergent ingestion include:

  • Mouth ulcers
  • Hypersalivation
  • Swollen tongue
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Upper respiratory noises
  • Stomach pain
  • Inflammation of the mouth and throat

If you believe your cat has eaten a dryer sheet, take your cat to the veterinarian. Your cat will become sick and need veterinary care anyway, so it’s best to stay ahead of the game and start treatment as soon as possible.

After ingesting a toxin, veterinarians recommend inducing vomiting and administering activated charcoal. However, since cationic detergents can burn, this can cause more harm than good.

Instead, your veterinarian may choose to dilute the chemical using fluids. Other treatments may be necessary depending on where the detergent affected your cat.

vet holding burma cat
Image Credit: Elpisterra, Shutterstock

Keeping Your Cat Safe, Dryer Sheets Alternatives

The best way to keep your cat away from dryer sheets is not to use them. Instead, you can elect safer alternatives or choose pet-safe dryer sheets.

Wool Balls

Wool Balls

Wool balls are an excellent alternative to dryer sheets. They contain zero chemicals and save you money since you won’t have to constantly re-purchase new wool balls. They also speed up drying, leaving your clothes soft and pet hair-free.

Spritz some essential oils on these bad boys, and your clothes will smell great!


Grandma knew what she was doing when using vinegar. Vinegar is a natural fabric softener that is 100% safe around animals. Add some to your washing machine, and your clothes will come out of the dryer soft.

Be careful with how much you use. Otherwise, your clothes will smell like vinegar. Still, you’d have to use a lot for that to happen. Add some essential oils to the load to help your clothes smell fresh.

Mrs. Myer’s Dryer Sheets

Mrs. Myer’s Dryer Sheets

Mrs. Myer’s products are safe around pets, including their dryer sheets. Made from plant-derived softening ingredients and essential oils, these dryer sheets will keep your clothes soft and smelling great. You won’t have to worry about harmful detergents.

To be safe, keep these dryer sheets stored away from your pets. The infused lavender can still cause stomach upset.

divider-catclaw1 Conclusion

Although dryer sheets help our clothes smell great, they can harm our pets. Truthfully, you don’t need dryer sheets anyway. There are plenty of safe alternatives that people have used for centuries before dryer sheets existed.

Try doing laundry without dryer sheets or give the alternatives we mentioned above a try. It’s better for the environment, and you won’t have to worry about your pet.

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Featured Image Credit: Crucible Pictures, Shutterstock