Will my cat get burned if I get a space heater?
December 6, 2008 5:01 PM   Subscribe

If I get a space heater, will my cat touch it and get burned? Or am I severely underestimating her intelligence? Or will she get burned once, and then learn not to do it?
posted by zavulon to Pets & Animals (18 answers total)
She will move close to it, sniff it, and feel the heat that way. And then won't touch it.
posted by fire&wings at 5:11 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

As I write this, one of my cats is curled up in a ball about 6 inches away from the space heater, which is apparently the maximum enjoyment zone for felines requiring warmth. Conversely, the other one gets pissed off as soon as she even looks at the thing.

I think yours will also be fine.

Somewhat related... back when I had radiators, the cats would lie down right on the metal, which was too hot for me to touch with my hands (comfortably).
posted by synaesthetichaze at 5:13 PM on December 6, 2008

or she will knock it over & burn the house down
posted by patnok at 5:13 PM on December 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've had several cats and several space heaters and no problems. In fact the bull dog likes to sleep about an inch away from the one in the office (muscling her way in between me and the blissful ankle heat) and she's never been burned. As an experiment, I just touched the space heater with my hand and while it is very hot and I would not be able to keep my hand there for very long, it does not burn on contact. I'm pretty sure it will be fine.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:13 PM on December 6, 2008

We recently installed a wood stove and were briefly a little worried (not very, because cats are smart), since they had been in the habit of stalking around that area; they both appreciate the heat greatly, and neither one has touched it. Your cat will be fine.
posted by languagehat at 5:18 PM on December 6, 2008

A lot depends on what kind of space heater you're talking about.

Nowadays you can buy ceramic space heaters where the casing does not heat up and will not set your house on fire if it falls over.
posted by canine epigram at 5:28 PM on December 6, 2008

Some years ago we had a woodstove and three cats. In the morning, the fire's residual heat makes the top of the woodstove a nice place for a cat to curl up. Each cat made the mistake once of jumping up there without checking it for heat first, burned its paw pads more or less severely, and learned its lesson. We thought that maybe cat #3 had managed to learn from the other cats' examples, but it just took a few months longer to make the critical mistake. :/

For something like a space heater, that doesn't have a cat-shaped warm spot on top of it sometimes and doesn't actually have a surface as hot as a woodstove's, I think your cats will be fine.
posted by hattifattener at 5:32 PM on December 6, 2008

I've had lots of cats and lots of space heaters. I have never had a cat burn itself.
posted by jeather at 5:34 PM on December 6, 2008

I think your cat will be fine. I've had several cats that were thankful for the space heater and would curl up in front of it for a cozy nap. But I did have one cat that would not leave lit candles alone. He was always catching his tail on fire and singeing the whiskers on his face. But a candle is not a space heater so I say your cat will be fine.
posted by Sailormom at 5:39 PM on December 6, 2008

Thanks everybody!
posted by zavulon at 5:45 PM on December 6, 2008

Nthing the cat will be fine. The cat will probably believe that you bought the space heater FOR HIM and worship it appropriately.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:25 PM on December 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

Last year my cat sat too close to the space heater and caught on fire! Luckily I was there and was able to pat the fire out with my hand. My partner liked the space heater so we ended up putting a kind of fence around it for this winter. I don't know what you call it but it is not the new ceramic kind. It looks like this. I have a ceramic heater in the bathroom and I don't worry about that. We have an oil filled heater which will not ignite the cat but I worry a little about those because I think they might tip over. If you can afford it the quartz heaters that come in a thick wood box are awesome. No kid or pet can get to the hot parts.

I didn't think Larry was dumb enough to get burned by the heater. But he was.
posted by cda at 7:16 PM on December 6, 2008

I've got an oil filled space heater sorta like this and it heats the room well, but is not too hot to touch. Even if it tipped over, it wouldn't burn anything.
posted by spilon at 7:49 PM on December 6, 2008

I use these oil heaters around my pets and the cats curl right under them without trouble.
posted by ick at 8:17 PM on December 6, 2008

We have an oil-filled space heater in every room of our house (similar to ick's link above), and we have three dogs and three cats who gravitate toward them for the warmth. None of them have ever been burned (one of the dogs actually rested his nose on one of them while sniffing it and didn't seem to have been fazed at all).
posted by amyms at 8:28 PM on December 6, 2008

I had a cat that made the mistake of jumping from my arms onto a hot wood stove, he burned his paws some and never made a similar mistake again (he made plenty of other mistakes though). Your cat will either stay away or get a little burn and then stay away.
posted by fenriq at 8:55 PM on December 6, 2008

I have seen several cats lie close to fireplaces without catching on fire.
posted by salvia at 11:05 PM on December 6, 2008

You will feel uncomfortable when your skin temperature reaches about 110°F; your cat probably won't notice until about 125°F.
posted by mandal at 2:59 AM on December 7, 2008

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