For The Love Of Your Pets: Protect your pet from the cold

Jan. 11, 2011 at midnight
Updated Jan. 12, 2011 at 7:13 p.m.

By John Beck

My neighbor told me this horrible story about her cat getting caught in her fan belt when she started the car the other day. She brought the cat to you and seems to be doing fine now. Why would a cat be in a car engine, and what should I do to avoid the same situation?

I've actually had the misfortune of seeing a couple of cats that were caught in car engines during start up within the last week. Cold, wet and windy weather causes your cat to seek out a place to hide. Some cats will find a garage or shed while others will find the warmth of a car engine very appealing. They will crawl up under the hood and snuggle down to take a nap. They are sleeping so soundly in that protected area that they don't hear you get in the car, then the car starts and ..

There are a couple of ways to avoid this situation. If you can offer your cat a place to stay inside your house or garage during extreme weather, that is ideal. Once you have them in the protected place, make sure you keep up with their food and water needs. If they are accustom to being free roaming, they might eat and drink elsewhere without you knowing it. Food and water intake are often increased when it is cold outside. Have a couple of extra days of food and water stored away in case of a bad storm or freeze that will limit your ability to get out of the house to fulfill these needs.

Open the hood of your car and take a peek inside. Even if you don't see anything, the sound of doing so might cause a reaction. Knocking loudly on the hood of your car or honking your horn a couple of times before you start it is always a good idea. If there is an animal under your hood, the noise should wake them up and hopefully scare them off before you get your vehicle started.

Making sure your pets have a warm place to stay during these cold winter months is a must. Even though it might be inconvenient for you to bring them into your home or garage, we need to keep in mind what is best for them. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me.

Dr. John Beck has a veterinary practice at Hillcrest Animal Hospital in Victoria. Submit questions to Dr. Beck at



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