by Doris Donnerman
(last updated February 17, 2009)
Like most other mammals, cats prefer to be comfortable temperature-wise, and so if a place is too hot, it will move somewhere to cool down, and if a place is too cold, it will move somewhere else to warm up. This isn't a problem at all, unless it endangers your cat. You need to watch where your cat goes to warm up, and make sure that it's not going anywhere dangerous.
Warm places that could attract your cat include furnace areas, dryers, and car engines, all of which can provide adequate warmth, but at the same time can be quite dangerous for your cat. If you find your cat by the furnace, shoo it away and provide a different warm place for it to settle down. While the furnace may not immediately present any serious threat, if your cat falls asleep to close to the furnace, and the furnace grows too hot, it could burn your cat, or even (in an extreme situation), catch your cat on fire.
If you find your cat hiding in the dryer, definitely remove the cat. If you start the dryer with the cat inside, that could prove disastrous. Your cat could suffer serious injury including broken bones and damaged internal organs, and even death. If you find you cat there one day, close the door and bang loudly on the top a few times before you let it out. The scary loud, echo-y noise will surely deter your cat from trying that hiding place again.
If your cat has access to the garage, you definitely need to check your car engine before turning the ignition. The car engine can be a warm place to cuddle up, and can stay warm for an extended period of time. If your cat sidled into the garage on a chilly night, and found the car warm and toasty, it wouldn't have a real problem wiggling its way close to the engine. Tap the hood a couple of times before starting the car, and if you hear anything inside, pop the hood and let it out. If you're unsure whether you hear anything, pop the hood anyway, just to be on the safe side. If your cat is caught in the engine when you start the car, you will most definitely injure (or even kill) your cat, and damage your car.
So, while it's natural to want to be warm when it's cold outside, with cats, you need to make sure they're not finding warmth in dangerous places. If you are just aware of where your cat is, and what parts of the house it has access to, you should be good, and your cat should be safe!
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