Is My Air Purifier Bad for My Cat/Kitten?

Is your air purifier bad for your cat, kitten, or any other pet you may have in the home?

If you have respiratory issues, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of the benefits of air purifiers.

But are you ready to potentially harm your beloved pet for the sake of your health?

The good news is that there isn’t much of a conundrum—meaning you don’t have to choose between your pet’s health and your own.

Having said that, you need to realize that your choices in air purifiers are limited when you have a pet in the home to consider. Whether it’s a kitten, a full-grown cat, or any other pet.

What Air Purifiers are Potentially Dangerous for Pets?

Yes, air purifiers can be dangerous for your pets, but it depends on what kind of air purifier you use.

According to numerous sources, ozone-generating air purifiers can be hazardous to humans and pets.

What is Ozone?

Ozone is a gas molecule made up of three different oxygen atoms.

Another word for ozone is smog—ozone is its main component—and you likely know how dangerous that can be for your respiratory system.

It essentially attacks lung tissue through a chemical reaction.

According to the FDA, there’s no difference between the smog we deal with on days when we get poor air quality warnings and the smog that generators deliberately pump into homes.

How Ozone-Generating Air Purifiers Work

Some ozone-generating air purifiers produce large and harmful quantities of it.

So not only is that harmful to your pet but also to you and your family.

These types of air purifiers can be marketed under a variety of different names, such as:

  • Activated oxygen air purifiers
  • Super oxygenated air purifiers
  • Energized oxygen air purifiers

Whatever they’re called, and whatever health implications they may make, they are still generating ozone.

There is available science to back up the fact that ozone will react with various molecules, so air purifier manufacturers can safely claim that their products can remove the following from the air.

  • Airborne particles
  • Bacteria
  • Chemicals
  • Mold
  • Odors
  • Viruses

The problem is, this typically happens when high levels of ozone are generated, canceling out any health benefits.

Ozone Generator vs Ionizing (Negative Ion) Air Purifier

Note that an air purifier that uses an ionizer is not the same thing as an ozone generator that is marketed as an air purifier.

A negative ion generator, or ionizer, emits negatively charged ions that attract particles like dust, pollen, odors, and a variety of other substances to stick to them. Ionizers don’t directly produce ozone like an ozone generator, however, they do produce it indirectly and sometimes in large amounts.

So an ozone generator deliberately produces ozone, while an ionizer or negative ion generator only produces ozone as a byproduct.

Bottom Line, too much ozone is dangerous to humans and pets.

Birds are especially sensitive to ozone, but several experimental studies on pets, including cats, dogs, hamsters, and guinea pigs, show that exposure to ozone can have negative respiratory effects.

Ozone generators, ionizers, and electrostatic precipitators emit ozone directly or indirectly. And while some ion generators may only emit small quantities of ozone, they are not all created equal.

Depending on what you buy, there are both ion and ozone generators that produce levels of ozone that are harmful to health—yours and your pet’s.

What Air Purifiers Are Safe for Pets?

So what are the best purifiers for pet owners?

Since we’ve established that ozone is bad for your cat, or any pet for that matter, what is the best purifier to use as a pet owner?

HEPA Air Purifiers Are Safe for Your Pets

So what’s the difference between an ozone-emitting air purifier and an air purifier that uses a HEPA filter?

HEPA filter is the short form of “high-efficiency particulate air” filter. These filters trap pollutants and air particles as they pass through. Testing states that the most efficient HEPA filter can remove at least 99.97% of 0.3-micron airborne particles such as:

  • Bacteria
  • Dust
  • Mold
  • Pollen

HEPA filters come with a MERV rating. With the highest number rating able to remove the smallest size air particles.

Although a 16 MERV rating is the most efficient HEPA filter, most home HVAC systems cannot support this filter.


It blocks too much airflow, which is potentially destructive for your HVAC.

However, commercial and medical HVAC systems typically support this filter when integrated into an HVAC system.

When sourcing a portable air purifier for your home, the highest MERV you’ll likely find is a medical-grade filter or H13 HEPA filter.

Since air purifiers with HEPA filters work by filtering the air already in your environment instead of releasing something—ozone—into your environment, they are safe for your cat, dog, bird, or your family.

There are many portable HEPA air purifiers on the market, and some terminologies may be confusing.

Any real HEPA filter will be safe, but to help you choose one that best fits your needs, consider the following.

What Are the Different Types of HEPA Filters?

When shopping for a portable air purifier that is safe for your cat and you, you might come across the following names.

  • True HEPA
  • HEPA-like
  • H13 HEPA
  • Medical grade HEPA

Are they all the same? No. In some cases, they are nothing more than marketing terms.

In fact, you may see claims that a True HEPA filter is better than a plain old HEPA filter, but that isn’t true.

While calling something a True HEPA filter sounds better than a HEPA filter, they’re both the same thing.

However, this should be obvious if you’re looking at an air purifier that says it has a HEPA-like or HEPA-style filter.

They are wannabe HEPA filters, not the real thing. Steer clear of this style of filter if pure air is important to you since it won’t come anywhere near the standards set for HEPA filters. They won’t capture 99.97% of particles and pollutants that are 0.3 microns in diameter.

However, an H13 HEPA filter and a medical-grade HEPA filter are virtually the same things.

Why Air Purifiers Are a Good Idea for Pet Owners

According to the filter manufacturer Filtrete, about 30% of Americans have some allergenic reaction to cats and dogs. Unfortunately, some people may not realize this until after adding a pet to their household.

Pet allergens can remain in the air for up to several months. They stick to your clothes, the furniture, and even the walls. They can survive through several washings and even linger after a pet is gone.

This is problematic for people with respiratory problems such as asthma.

Fortunately, pet owners don’t need to make difficult decisions. An air purifier with a HEPA filter is not only safe for your pet, but it’s also capable of removing even tiny particles of pet dander and providing relief from your allergy symptoms.

As a pet owner with allergies, the best of both worlds is a HEPA air purifier with the highest airflow you can find. Many asthma associations have recommendations and certifications for air purifiers that meet set standards.

Is My Air Purifier Bad For My Cat? Conclusion

You want to be sure you’re maintaining a safe and healthy environment for everyone in your home—yourself, your family, and your pets.

This means your family’s needs must align with your pet’s needs.

Choosing an air purifier does narrow your field of choices, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Air purifiers that generate too much ozone are not only dangerous for your pets, they are dangerous for your family as well.

As a pet owner, the wise choice is a portable air purifier with the highest rating HEPA filter you can find. This will typically be an H13 or medical-grade HEPA air purifier.