A rice sock is one common way that veterinarians and veterinary support staff provide soothing warmth (“heat support”) to dogs and cats. Rice socks are easy to make, inexpensive, and can be used over and over. They’re great to have on hand for sore muscles or even just a chilly night. (And we’ll let you in on a secret: humans love them too.)
To make your own, simply place rice in a clean sock and seal. Heat the sock full of rice in the microwave until warm and put it near your cat. You can also use these socks for cold support by placing them in the freezer.
WARNING: Prevent burns by making sure you don’t place the sock against your cat’s skin. Instead, place it under their bedding or put a towel between the sock and your cat.
What you need to make a rice sock:
- Uncooked, dry rice: the quantity will depend on the size of your sock. A small sock usually requires 1 ½ to 2 cups, and larger socks need 3 to 4 cups.
- A clean, thick athletic sock (knee-length socks works well)
- Optional: one tea bag
How to Make a Rice Sock:
Gather your supplies.
Pour rice into the clean sock. The easiest way to fill a sock is to place rice in a cup or glass, stretch the sock opening over the cup, and dump the contents in the sock. You can use a funnel as another option. Don’t pack the rice too tightly; leave some room so the sock will still be flexible and can conform to your cat’s body. If the material in sock is too loosely woven and allows the rice to come through the sock, use panty hose as an inner layer and slip the sock around it.
Seal the sock. You can tie the sock on itself or close the top using yarn, string, or ribbon. Don’t use twist ties or metal of any kind, as you will be placing the sock in the microwave.
Heat the sock. To do this, place the rice-filled sock in the microwave for 1 to 4 minutes. Check frequently to make sure you don’t overheat the rice (you will smell a scent like burnt popcorn) and that the sock is not painfully hot to the touch. After hearing, gently shake the sock to distribute the heated rice.
Alternative: create a cold compress. To chill the sock instead of heating it, place the sock in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours.
Place the sock next to the affected area. Let your cat snuggle up to the soothing heat or cold. Remember to protect their safety by not leaving them unattended with the sock and checking the sock regularly for signs of damage or chewing.
The heated rice can have a strong scent at first but that will dissipate with time. Some cat parents will add a teaspoon of loose tea or the contents of a tea bag to the rice, which creates a fresh scent when heated.
Alternatively, you can fill anything with rice and create a compress. Some cat owners use thick fabric, flannel, or a soft dishtowel. If you sew something yourself, a zigzag stick works best to seal the compress. Either way, this is a handy, easy, inexpensive product that cats and humans love.