No, that’s not the beginning of a joke, but instead, it’s me knocking on the hood of my car early in the morning. I usually imagine my neighbors looking out the windows and wondering “What is she doing?” But, luckily I am ready to explain how this simple act can save cats lives.
In the cold weather, cats seek warmth. In a perfect world every cat is safe in a warm house, but unfortunately, the world is not perfect and cats get stuck in houses, basements, sheds and other places just trying to keep warm. Cars are very dangerous because without checking you could drive off with a cat who could fall out and be hit, suffer burn wounds from the engine or other bodily harm.
I have personally known someone who drove off with their own cat in the engine, ultimately the cat did not survive this and the lesson was a hard one to learn and the owner was heartbroken. Could the cat potentially have been saved? Absolutely, but there still is not enough widespread knowledge of this safety tip for everyone to be “in the know.”
One volunteer recounts her own story about a cat in an engine and the importance of ensuring these events don’t happen.
“I was a surgical vet tech when I lived in Detroit. A hysterical woman called that her indoor-outdoor cat was stuck in the fan belt of her car engine. Fortunately, he wasn’t burned, but the fan had caused numerous abrasions, and he was howling in terror and pain and his mom was in full panic mode. I suggested she get the heaviest shears she could and cut the belt to free the cat and I told her to call a cab as soon as she hung up with me to get here.
Twenty-five minutes later a woman charged into the clinic holding a very beat-up looking black cat howling his head off. He looked pretty bad – covered with blood. Turned out, he was one lucky cat – he had only superficial injuries and despite the fact that I took two hours to carefully shave and suture every one of his abrasions, he was otherwise fine.
She learned a valuable lesson that day – bang on the hood of a car with a warm engine before starting off. A cold cat has no idea that this lovely respite from a frigid day has the potential to kill or maim him. As the supposedly smarter species, it’s up to us to keep them safe.”
It takes only a few seconds to hit the hood of your car and save a cat’s life. Although many feral and domesticated cats like to live life free and on the go, I don’t think they’d appreciate this type of joy ride.