Do I have something to worry about and if so, what can I do about it?
October 27, 2008 6:13 PM   Subscribe

What to do about the woodstove and our new kittens?

We've recently added two kittens to our home (one's 5 months, the other's 11 weeks). One of their frequented hiding spots is under and around the woodstove.

I've only ever had one cat and she wasn't very frisky. She didn't go near the stove very often... and I didn't have her when she was a kitten.

What is your opinion? Are cats/kittens smart enough to realize the stove is hot or should I barricade it somehow? (I have no idea how I'll do that at this point... suggestions are welcome, here is a pic of the area.)

We're obviously discouraging them from going under there every time they get near it, but they're going over there at dozen times a night, at least.

posted by 10ch to Pets & Animals (14 answers total)
You should barricade it.

Most cats become cautious about hot things after first singing off their feeler hairs (what we call 'whiskers') and this can cause them to be less confident in navigating their surroundings in general and lead to more clumsiness. And, if they aren't particularly self-preservation-minded kittens (which seem to exist in droves), they can do far worse than that in just a few seconds - like burn their tender noses and paw pads - while trying to indulge their insatiable curiosity.
posted by batmonkey at 6:21 PM on October 27, 2008

Have you considered an anti-cat spray underneath the woodstove, after a while they'll get used to not going there.
posted by mandal at 6:26 PM on October 27, 2008

Cats aren't as dumb as they act. Fur and fire don't mix. Not sure what the flashpoint of fur is, but bet it's ingrained in the DNA of the kittens.

I have hippy1 fiends2 that have a wood stove in their living room. The cats have learned to stay away.

I can ask, but pretty damn sure there was no training involved.

My uncle also have a wood stove in his house, more cats than the crazy lady, and not one went up in flames.

They're safe.

1. Anyone taking offense at me referring to my friends as hippies, can go ahead an be offended. They're my friends, not yours.
2. I do too have friends!

posted by cjorgensen at 6:27 PM on October 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

In the summer, my cat would use the woodstove as a launchpad up to the mantel. In the winter, when we were heating the whole house with the woodstove, he was never fool enough to try it. We never had any burned paws, he just seemed to know.
posted by Foam Pants at 6:40 PM on October 27, 2008

I thought this was recipefilter, but that aside...

2nding a barricade that stops them from going into their favorite fortress/playground. A basic barrier should do it. Start enforcing now so that when the stove starts getting used, they're already used to being banned from the area.
posted by stewiethegreat at 6:50 PM on October 27, 2008

I've never worried about my cats getting burned on our woodstove, and they never did. One of the used to sleep right under it. Putting up barriers is probably useless; as they grow they'll climb or jump over it, if they want to.
posted by beagle at 6:58 PM on October 27, 2008

My mother had a kitten that got into/under a hot water heater right after her marriage to my father. The kitten didn't have the sense to stay away and it didn't survive. Please barricade the stove.
posted by immlass at 7:02 PM on October 27, 2008

Rather than putting up an annoying barricade, you should just put some rocks/bricks under the stove so they can't fit. The stones serve as radiant warmth and will protect the floor, also. We keep big rocks under our wood stove for that purpose, and a cat wouldn't be able to weasel under there.
posted by letahl at 7:07 PM on October 27, 2008 [3 favorites]

How hot does the top of the stove get? I'd be worried about when they are old enough to jump up there while it's hot.

I'd get some hardware cloth and 2x2's and build a temporary cage around the thing until they are wise enough in the way's of the word not to mess around with the thing.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:23 PM on October 27, 2008

My parents cats love to go dangerously close to their fireplace. Cats are smart enough not to walk in to the fire, but they are still at risk of burns from the sparks that go snap crackle pop. My suggestion is a fire fireplace screen. (This was a generic cheap one, you can get a fancier one if you like.) The mesh catches sparks and it acts as a good kitten deterrent to boot.
posted by abirae at 8:31 PM on October 27, 2008

"The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. Nor upon a cold stove lid." -- Mark Twain, perhaps (questionable since Google Books shows no instances prior to the 1950s)

Seems practical for adult cats but perhaps too cruel for dumb-ass kittens.
posted by dhartung at 2:07 AM on October 28, 2008

My parents have a Vermont (?) Soapstone wood-burning stove, which emits a soft, radiant heat, and their cat, who is by now 11 or 12, will get up under it and sleep, but not when it's actually burning (b/c then it's too hot). He gets under there in the morning, when that's the warmest place in the house. Given that he's been at it all his life and never burned himself, I think that if THAT is what your kittens are doing, then it's not a big deal. If they are trying to snuggle up to a very hot stove, though, you are better off barricading it with a screen or rocks as above until they get a little bit more sense in their furry little brains.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:02 AM on October 28, 2008

Is that an Upland? Nice stove. I have one that looks remarkably similar to it. My cat sleeps under it all the time.
posted by Area Control at 7:13 AM on October 28, 2008

A post-winter follow-up: We bought a bunch of bricks and shielded the sides and floor from the kittens, along with being vigilant with "No!'s" and various distractions (toys, laser, etc.) and all was well for the entire winter EXCEPT for the last fire in March. One of our kittens jumped up there and burned all of his paws, resulting in a vet visit, antibiotics and pain meds. After several weeks, his paws healed and are normal.
posted by 10ch at 12:17 PM on May 4, 2009

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