Thursday, November 11, 2010

Cats and car engines: A terrible (but reasonable) combination

Jasper the cat enjoys sleeping on cars
My outdoor cats have 24/7 access to heated beds, heated sheds and sun puddles. For outdoor, semi-feral cats, they have things pretty good. Warmth shouldn't elude them. 

Even so, when the weather gets cold, they would prefer to sleep on the tops of cars. It's not unusual (or even all that weird).

The heat from the engine transfers to the hood of the car, making this a hard, but very warm, place to sleep. Some cats become so enamored of this heat, and so eager to seek it out, that they will actually climb inside the car and make a nest on top of the engine. This is extremely dangerous, as the fan belt can dramatically injure the cat if the car is started again.

I used to tap the horn before I started my car in the winter, just to ensure I had no unwanted travelers. Out of concern for my neighbors, I've started knocking on the hood of the car instead. And I do shoo away our cats when they are caught sleeping on top of the cars. Many people aren't tolerant of cat prints, claw marks and hair on the tops of their car, and the cats need to learn to respect that.

But can you break a cat of car sleeping? I'm not so sure. These guys love heat, and until there's a car that produces zero heat, this is likely to be a problem. 

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