Your cat needs to stay warm when it’s cold outside. Not surprisingly, felines are naturally drawn to heat sources, such as radiators and heaters. This potentially leaves your cat at risk of burns and scalds. Cats and high heat can be a dangerous combination if not monitored closely.
A working radiator is unlikely to burn your cat as it will usually walk away when it is too hot. However, a faulty thermostat could cause the temperature to become scolding. The thermostatic radiator valve must be set to a cat-safe temperature and be checked regularly.
Cats hate living in a cold house. That’s why safety precautions around heat sources are paramount if you have cats. A feline’s love of heat and warmth will often supersede its sense of self-preservation. But there are ways to keep your cat safe from getting burnt.
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Why Do Cats Like Warmth So Much?
A cat’s passion for warmth comes from its genetics. Cats are descended from desert-dwelling ancestors. This means that they have a naturally higher body temperature than humans.
The average body temperature of a cat is 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Provided a cat stays above 100 degrees, it’ll be comfortable. If it gets any cooler, your cat will be too cold.
Unfortunately, cats are not always capable of understanding when they’re warm enough. When the ambient temperature outside is cold, your cat will notice this quickly. As a result, it’ll search for a heat source. It’ll then lie beside a heater or on top of a radiator.
Can Cats Feel the Heat?
Cats have fewer pain receptors than humans when it comes to heat.
The human body acknowledges pain at 112 degrees. Cats do not recognize pain until temperatures of 126 degrees are reached.
If we touched a stove burning a stove at 112, we’d remove our hand immediately. A cat would be completely nonplussed by the experience.
This doesn’t mean that cats are safe, though. They’d still burn, but they wouldn’t realize until it was too late.
This is why it’s so crucial to monitor a cat around a heat source. Sure, not many radiators reach triple-figure temperatures. Your cat could still do itself harm without realizing it, though.
Your cat will already be running hot. It’ll then start absorbing extra heat from a radiator or heater. It may not realize it, as its fur absorbs this warmth. If your cat then dozes off, burns are likely to happen.
Are Radiators Safe for Cats?
Your cat would need to spend a lot of time in direct contact with a radiator to be scalded. However, as cats are unlikely to realize that it’s too hot before it’s too late, you’ll need to step in. If your cat falls asleep on a radiator, then it is especially likely to end up getting burned.
Other health concerns arise from spending too much time on a radiator, too. Your cat’s skin will likely dry out. This will leave your cat feeling particularly itchy and uncomfortable.
A radiator cover for your cat will minimize any risks. Laying a thick, non-flammable blanket on a radiator makes a cozy perch for your cat.
Your cat will search for a radiator in the house. It’s a great way of maintaining warmth and heat. Avoiding direct contact is essential, so a radiator bed for your cat will help.
Are Radiator Cat Beds Safe?
A cat radiator bed is a bed that hangs over a radiator, like a portable hammock for your cat.
A radiator bed consists of a small cushion that hooks over the heat source. Your cat can then doze beside a radiator, without sitting directly on it. All the same, you should still apply a radiator cover for your cat’s protection.
Your cat may need some convincing to use a radiator bed. Ensure that the cushion is comfortable. Felines can be picky when it comes to their comfort.
If your cat enjoys catnip, that’s a great way to convince it to use a radiator bed. The combination of catnip and heat will help to convince your cat.
Are Portable Heaters Safe for Cats?
Choosing the right model is pivotal if you have a cat. Some heaters are more feline-friendly than others. Safety features in a portable heater include:
- Automatic shutdown. Find a heater that turns itself off if tipped over. This way, clumsy cats cannot burn down your house.
- Timer operation If you can set your heater to turn on and off at particular times, so much the better. Heat it while your cat is asleep and switch it off while they’re roaming.
- Oscillation. A heater that rotates will distribute warmth around the room. This means that your cat is less likely to sit on it, risking burns.
- Thermostat. Any quality heater will have multiple temperature settings. A built-in thermostat, which adjusts according to the ambient temperature, is ideal.
- Ceramic coating. A ceramic coating will be cool to the touch. This minimizes the risk of your cat burning himself when he passes by.
If you cannot be sure that a heater is cat-safe, then leave it on the shelf. Hazardous portable heaters and curious cats lead to burns and house fires.
My Cat Sits Too Close to the Heater
If your cat sits in front of a heater, it’s unsafe. If your cat tends to get too close to a heater for comfort, don’t let it nap. Allow your cat to build its core body temperature, then move it on. Cats will stay in this position all day.
You could also try blocking the path to the heater. This is a hazard for your home, though. If you use something flammable, it could catch fire.
Portable heaters should be used in short, controlled bursts. Let your cat warm-up and then turn it off. When not in use, the heater should be unplugged and kept out of your cat’s reach.
Has My Cat Been Burned By a Radiator or Heater?
Sometimes, you won’t know if a cat has been burned. If your cat doesn’t feel any pain, it won’t yowl or cry. This will change after the event, though.
Burns on a cat’s skin can become tender. The physical symptoms of a burn are quite evident. These include:
- Raw, bright red patches of skin
- Reluctance to be touched
- Black, charred skin (when he has severe burns)
- Blisters on the skin
There are three degrees of burns:
- First-degree burns are superficial injuries. They’ll leave the skin red and singe fur. They’ll also hurt. No permanent damage will be done. Your cat’s skin will heal and its fur will regrow.
- Second-degree burns will lead to blistered skin, as well as redness. This suggests that the burns have penetrated your cat’s exterior and damaged them beneath the skin. Expect a cat with second-degree burns to yowl as they hurt a lot.
- Third-degree burns are a medical emergency. The burns will penetrate all layers of skin and potentially lead to nerve damage. These are marked by charred, blackened skin.
It’s unlikely that a burn or scald from a radiator will extend beyond first-degree burns. They may reach second-degree status in some extreme cases.
Limit your cat’s direct contact with a heat source and provide it with protection when possible. This will keep your cat warm and safe throughout the colder winter months.