Check your car’s engine for cats during this cold snap

A light bang on your hood before you get into the car works or honk your horn before turning your key and starting the engine

Extreme cold can be a real danger to animals in a way you may not expect. 

With temperature plunging below minus 30 tonight the Ontario SPCA warned today that you should check your car for cats before driving off on a chilly morning.

“Watch for cats seeking warmth under vehicle hoods – knock on the hood of your car or sound the horn before starting the engine. Cats hiding under hoods can be injured or killed by the fan belt,” warns a news release from the OSPCA.

Stray cats especially like to go inside the engine bay and wheel well because it keeps them warm in freezing temperatures. They may also be lying on the ground under the engine or your recently parked car to escape cold and snow. These places are dark and they can nap in peace.

Before you drive off, always check under your car for animals.

A light bang on your hood before you get into the car works or honk your horn before turning your key and starting the engine.

The OSPCA also offers these other tips to keep your pets safe when the mercury dips.

  1. Supervise outdoor time – Some dogs want to be outside, regardless of the weather. Even if your dog has a thick coat, keep an eye on them when they are outside playing to watch for early signs that they’re cold, such as holding up paws or shivering. 
  2. Modify outdoor activities – Limit the length of time spent outside and choose walking routes that loop past your house, in case you or your pooch need to come in to get warm. 
  3. Leave pets at home – Leave your animal at home where they are warm and safe when you’re running errands. Cars cool down quickly and don’t hold in body heat, which can lead to animals suffering from cold stress, hypothermia or frostbite.
  4. Keep paws clean – Use a damp towel to wipe your pet’s paws and underside if they’ve walked along salted sidewalks or roads. Salt and other chemicals used to melt snow and ice on roads and sidewalks can irritate and burn your pet’s sensitive paws and can cause illness if ingested. 
  5. Clean up car spills – Keep an eye out for antifreeze, or other automotive leaks in your driveway. Antifreeze has a sweet taste that can be attractive to animals and can be fatal if ingested.
  6. Know your animal’s unique needs – Cats, puppies and short-coated dogs are particularly vulnerable in cold temperatures. Some dogs, especially short-coated breeds, puppies and elderly dogs may benefit from a dog sweater or coat as an extra layer of warmth. 

“Our furry friends depend on us to look out for their needs,” says Dr. Julia Hughes, Shelter Health & Wellness Veterinarian with the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society. “In cold winter conditions, it’s important to consider every part of your pet’s daily routine to ensure they are comfortable and safe at all times.” 

For more winter pet safety tips, visit

Nina Zatulini

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