A Reminder About Remote Car Starters And Cats

Since Michael has been on a roll with how cats can be injured or killed by cars, I decided to approach the subject once again from our cat Sealy’s perspective. By this I mean cats can die under the hood in warm weather too.

Sealy Collage

Sealy Collage by Elisa

Many areas of the U.S. get hot in the summer. And I mean HOT. We had temperatures last summer in South Carolina with heat indexes in the triple digits and humidity at near 100%. I hate hot weather, and I imagine a few neighborhood cats out there feel the same way. What better, safe way for a cat to cool off than to climb up into the engine compartment of a car parked under a shade tree. Or in a garage. At least the cat will assume the engine compartment is safe until….the car starts and the cat is injured or killed. Which is what happened to Sealy, except it was in the winter. He’s lucky to have survived with just a missing ear.

It’s likely that many car owners, not wanting to get all sweaty while driving to work, will use their remote car starter this summer to start their car with the air conditioning already running. Mechanics caution car owners against this because it can impact not only the battery, but also the starter on a car. Manuals recommend the air conditioner be turned off a few blocks away from wherever you’re going so condensation doesn’t develop that can harm the air conditioner. FYI you should let the fan run while you do this. Something about mold growth.

Those with newer cars and new batteries probably won’t think twice about starting a car by remote a few minutes before they plan to leave. After all, a cold car is much more comfortable in scorching outdoor heat than a hot one. It takes a few minutes for a scorching hot car to cool off, and a remote starter seems the ideal answer for staying cool.

It’s still a good idea to beat on the hood, honk the horn, and do a visual inspection if at all possible. These are much better alternatives than living with the guilt of seriously injuring or killing a cat who was only hoping to catch a nap in what it considered a safe place.

For those of you who are wondering about Sealy, he’s doing great. He’s put on a little more weight and he plays with his toys every day. He still lives in his cage (his choice, not ours), but the door is only shut while he’s eating his special food. This keeps the other cats away. After he eats, the door is opened. He spends his time cat watching, people watching or looking out the living room or bedroom windows. He has a good life now, although he’s not a lap cat unless it’s on his terms. Meaning I have to have something he wants (like food) before he graces me with his presence.

Please remind all of your friends that just because its not cold out anymore, cats still aren’t safe from remote car starters. Don’t sacrifice a cats life for the few minutes you save cooling off your car before leaving home.

Elisa

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A Reminder About Remote Car Starters And Cats — 15 Comments

  1. Nice collage Elisa. Sealy is very striking. I have never heard of remote starters before. Well, I might have but not sure how they work. Do they work on a timer or does someone zap the car from inside the house or something like that?

    I wonder whether you get more strays finding their way into engine compartments than we do in the UK. I don’t think about it but perhaps I am being careless.

  2. They’re on a keychain much like the type where you can sound an alarm, open the trunk or unlock and lock doors. Here’s a photo:

    remote car starter

    They’re on a lot of the more expensive cars. I don’t know how many people have them installed on midpriced vehicles. I imagine anyone who wants a warm car in the winter and a cool car in the summer when they first get inside. It’s very bad for the car system to leave the A/C switch in the own position, but a lot of people do it anyway.

    • Thanks for filling me in, Elisa.

      It is actually a very neat idea. I can see the advantages in extreme climates. I have visited the USA quite a lot and experienced very hot weather with the air cond. on full blast in the car. I can also see the real dangers for cats.

  3. Good point Elisa – thanks. One would assume it to be a winter thing but infact you are absolutely correct in assuming people will use the exact same thing in the summer to beat the heat. I never thought of that. I have never seen these things before, nobody out here seems to have them but lets hope that lots of people in the US and Canada read this article and take precautions in view of it.

    • Sealy looks great – what a sweet looking little cat. It’s wonderful what you have done for him in my humble opinion. He clearly deserved a chance and you gave that to him against many odds. One can’t save them all but one can still save some of them and it’s a great thing to have done. He wouldn’t have gone very far without you and now he looks happy. Just the evolution of the pictures of him tell the story of his improvement. He is enjoying his life now and that is a great thing no matter what anyone thinks. I’m sure it gives you enormous pleasure to see him enjoy the simple pleasures of being alive and well. Very well done to you and Sealy.

      • Agreed. Elisa did a great job of rehabilitation. He reminds me of Charlie. A cat with a bit of anatomy missing. They have a striking appearance. For some strange reason I think I prefer cats like this. The “defect” makes them more beautiful.

        • I agree, Michael. I would love to live with a cat who had an amputation, or even better, one with cerebellar hypoplasia. They are otherwise healthy, and not in any pain, but they have ataxia. As a PTA I think either would be great fun. Maybe I could help the cat with an underdeveloped cerebellum to become more coordinated. I’ve worked with adult humans experiencing deficincies of their cerebellum (for various reasons) and they can improve their balance and coordination to a certain degree (or in some cases just slow the decline).

          Some people see only the disability, I see it as a challenge to be overcome and animals are quite good at that. They don’t waste any time on self pity.

  4. I came up with the idea when I got into my very hot car to go to work a few days ago. It takes at least 5 minutes of the air running to get the indoor temp comfortable.

    Sealy is very happy and quite spoiled. I write a lot of dog stories now because they’re very fast for me to cover. Now I’m also working with several rescues and shelters where I’ll be writing quick bios on cats with less than 48 hrs left to live. At least I feel I’m doing something to help. But my main cat articles will remain on PoC. I’m only a few away from hitting the 600 articles written mark on all subjects combined.

    • Yay for you, Elisa! You are a very good writer with the self discipline needed to actually make a career out of it, which you are well on your way to doing.

      My car has a dark interior, so I’m like you on the five minutes it takes to cool it down! I liked everything else about the car, so I bought it. With a used car, you take what you can find. No remote start for me, though. My friend Bob hates them. He said they injure mechanics. If the remote start doesn’t work and the mechanic has to fix it, the car can suddenly start at any moment without warning. I guess he knows someone who got injured that way. He prefers not to work on cars that have them. I don’t blame him.

      • Have you seen the number of stories I’ve had to do on the dog shootings? I hit the floor running every day and don’t stop until I get home after midnight. I’m fortunate the cat articles for PoC are still coming into my head on a regular basis. Between that and the certification tests I’m taking at work I rarely come up for air except on the weekends.

        My car had to be 100 degrees inside the day I thought of this article. And it was only 80 degrees outside. I dread the summer months. I’ve never had a car with a remote starter. I’m only on my second car with a remote door/trunk thingy.

    • I remember being in Texas and the person I was meeting immediately turned the air conditioning on full. That requires lots of energy but it was so hot the person had to. I can see why the idea of the remote starter came about.

  5. I can’t imagine what it would be like not to have a car. Well, actually I had 3 months without one while recovering from surgery and not working back in early 2007. It’s a scary feeling for me. Perhaps because I live in the middle of nowhere and without a car you have to ask neighbors for a ride to the supermarket and such. I still have my beat up old VW sitting in the yard. Could put it back on the road if I had to for just the price of insurance and a few dollars in taxes.

  6. Not having a car is no fun even if you live in the city and can take the bus. When we had only one car and Jeff had it one weekend I had to take the bus to church. Sunday busses are notoriously slow and unpredictable. I waited and waited until I wasn’t going to make it if it came at that moment. I ran home and called the church and told them I’d missed the bus so if they wanted organ music they would send somebody to get me ASAP. They did.

    Worse would be not having a car and having a sick or injured pet. Do they even allows animals on the bus? I doubt it, unless it is a service animal.

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