Outdoor cats face many dangers, and life for stray, homeless or feral cats is even tougher during the cold winter months. In addition to seeking food and water, outdoor cats must also find shelter from the cold. Drawn by the warmth of the engine, cats often seek shelter in and around cars, sometimes even crawling up into the engine compartment as they look for warmth and protection from the wind, rain or snow. If you accidentally start your car unaware of a hidden feline passenger, the cat can be injured or killed from the car’s fan belt or other moving parts. Unless your car is parked in a secure garage that you are certain no cats have access to, take a few extra moments to do the following before getting in and starting your car:
– Take a quick look under your car for cats seeking shelter there, especially around the wheel wells and near the exhaust.
– Tap, knock or pound the hood of your car, being sure to make enough noise that a hidden cat will be able to hear, and allow a few seconds for any cats to escape.
– Once inside the automobile, honk your horn before moving the car.
– Of course, if you hear any unusual noise when you start your car, immediately turn off the engine, pop open the hood and investigate.
– If you really want to be a guardian angel for outdoor cats, consider building or buying a safe shelter cats can use to seek refuge from the worst winter weather.
Hopefully your own cat is safe and cozy at home, but many cats are not so lucky. Taking a few extra moments before starting your car this winter can avert a tragedy.