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.
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 their sense of self-preservation. But there are proven methods that will keep your pet safe from getting burnt.
- 1 Why Do Cats Like Heat So Much?
- 2 Are Radiators Safe for Cats?
- 3 Are Portable Heaters Safe for Cats?
- 4 Can I Have an Open Fire if I Have a Cat?
- 5 How Do I Know if My Cat is Burned?
Why Do Cats Like Heat So Much?
A cat’s passion for warmth comes from their genetics. Cats are descended from desert-dwelling ancestors. This means they run a higher body temperature than humans.
The average body temperature of a cat is around 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Provided a cat stays above 100 degrees, they’re typically comfortable. Any lower and they are too cold.
Unfortunately, cats are not always capable of understanding when they’re warm enough. As Mother Nature Network explains, their fur confuses them.
When the ambient temperature outside is cold, your cat will notice this. As a result, they’ll hunt down a heat source. They’ll then lie beside a heater or on top of a radiator.
Which Cat Breeds Need Warm Temperatures?
Some cats are better equipped to cope with the cold than others. As a rule, the shorter and finer a feline’s fur, the less they’ll enjoy being chilly.
Cats that struggle most with cold temperatures include:
- Devon Rex
These cats will naturally gravitate to a heat source at every opportunity. Of course, fine hair means less padding and protection from said heat. Offer these cats plenty of warm, comfy bedding as an alternative way of keeping toasty.
Can Cats Feel Heat Like Humans?
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.
If we touched a stove burning a stove at 112, we’d remove our hand immediately. A cat would be completely nonplussed. This doesn’t mean that they’re 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 themselves harm without realizing it, though.
Your cat will already be running hot. They’ll then start absorbing extra heat from a radiator or heater. They may not realize it, as their fur absorbs this warmth. If your cat then dozes off, burns are likely.
Are Radiators Safe for Cats?
Cats must spend a lot of time in direct contact with a radiator to be scalded. However, as cats are unlikely to realize they’re too hot before it’s too late, you’ll need to step in. If your cat falls asleep on a radiator, they are especially likely to end up 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 them itchy and uncomfortable.
PetCareRx recommends some treatments for dry skin if your cat does suffer from the condition. Alternatively, ensure that their skin is regularly moisturized. Coconut oil is good for this.
A radiator cover for your cat will minimize these risks. Laying a thick, non-flammable blanket on a radiator makes a cozy perch for your cat.
Your cat will gravitate toward a radiator in the house. It’s a great way of maintaining warmth and heat. Avoiding direct contact is essential. Buying in a radiator bed for your cat will help.
What is a Cat Radiator Bed?
A cat radiator bed is a bed that hangs over a radiator, like a portable hammock for your pet.
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 suitably comfortable. Felines can be picky about this.
If your pet enjoys catnip, that’s a great way to convince them to use a radiator bed. The combination of catnip and heat will help any cat find their happy place.
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 to look for in a portable heater include:
- Automatic shutdown. Find a heater that turns itself off it 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 a 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 risks of your cat burning themselves as they pass.
If you cannot be sure that a heater is not pet-safe, it’s best to leave it on the shelf. Choose carefully. Hazardous portable heaters and curious cats result lead to burns, and maybe even house fires.
My Cat Sits Too Close to the Heater
If your cat sits right in front of a heater, they’re unsafe. In some extreme cases, your pet’s fur may even catch fire. This must be avoided.
If your cat tends to get too close to a heater for comfort, don’t let them nap. Allow your cat to build their core body temperature, then move them 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, that’s just as likely to catch fire.
Portable heaters are best used in short, controlled bursts. Turn yours on for a while, let your cat warm up, then turn it off. When not in use, the heater should be unplugged and kept out of your cat’s reach.
Can I Have an Open Fire if I Have a Cat?
Your cat will enjoy having a fireplace in the home, but you’ll need to be careful. While your pet will love the heat source, open fires are hazardous to cats.
Ensure that you have a fireguard in place. This is essential. If left unprotected, an open fireplace is a massive hazard to any feline.
Don’t use a glass fireguard. Cats sometimes go crazy when they see their reflection. This could be just as dangerous. Your cat could end up agitated around an open fire.
A fireguard remains essential, though. Remember that a fire will regularly spit out embers. If these land in your cat’s fur, burns will invariably occur.
Your cat will also doze as close as they can to the flames. This leaves them at risk of rolling over in their sleep – straight into the fire.
You’ll also need to think about your cat’s lungs. A prolonged period of time beside an open fire means the risk of inhaling carbon monoxide. This can be fatal to felines.
Remain conscious of where you play with your cat. Keep any physical activity far away from the fireplace. Another room entirely is preferable.
This way, there is no risk of accidentally tossing a toy into the fire. Your cat will chase their toy into a fire without a second thought.
Cats are not stupid, or suicidal, Their hunting instincts are too strong, and will overpower their ability to make wise decisions. As discussed previously, they may not even notice the heat at first.
A roaring fire makes a home extremely warm and cozy during the winter. Your cat, especially, will love it. Just exercise appropriate caution.
How Do I Know if My Cat is Burned?
Sometimes, you won’t know if a cat has been burned. If your pet doesn’t feel any pain, they 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 (particularly apparent in severe burns)
- Blisters on the skin
There are three degrees of burns. PetMD explains the differences as follows:
- 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 their fur will re-grow.
- Second-degree burns will manifest as 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; 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. Third-degree burns are marked by charred, blackened skin.
First-degree burns can typically be treated with first aid and observation at home. They’ll hurt, and make your cat more cautious, but they rarely cause permanent damage.
Second or third-degree burns will require further medical attention. Take your cat to a vet if they experience these injuries. At the very least, your cat may require painkillers or additional cooling treatments. In extreme cases, they may even need skin grafts.
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.
All the same, take no chances with the heat sources in your home. First-degree burns are still sore and uncomfortable for a cat.
How to Treat Burns on Cats
If cats do burn themselves on a heat source, first aid will be required. To tend to a cat’s burns inflicted by a heat source:
- Gently remove your cat from the radiator or heater.
- Apply cool water to the impacted area. Do not just pour or spray the water. Immerse your cat in water, or use a damp cloth.
- Continue this process for around 20 minutes.
- Dry your cat. Patting them with kitchen towel is best.
- Apply aloe vera gel to the affected area to help your cat heal.
- Monitor your cat for signs of discomfort, and react accordingly.
Heat sources must always be handled with care around cats. Your pet will look to stay cozy, whatever it takes. This places responsibility for their safety on your shoulders.
Limit your cat’s direct contact with a heat source, and provide protection where applicable. This will keep your cat cozy and safe throughout the winter months.