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An image macro I've seen a few times, has an image of a cat sitting on top of a car tyre, and says to the effect of 'Reminder, cold season is starting, and cats seek shelter in cars, please check for cats before starting your car'.

Do you cats really regularly sit on top of car tyres, and do they regularly get injured/killed from people starting there cars when they do?

example picture

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Welcome to Skeptics Stack Exchange! We want to focus our attention on doubtful claims that are widely held or are made by notable people. Please provide some examples of places where this claim is being made. –  Jamiec Apr 30 at 10:16
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@dwjohnston, yes they do –  Ilya Melamed Apr 30 at 10:25
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Another anecdote, but one of our kittens was found hiding in an engine compartment during a downpour in the fall. It has happened, certainly, but whether weather has anything to do with it (warm or cold) I'm not sure. I could see a recently disengaged car being a great spot for a cat or other animal to warm up, however. –  phatskat Apr 30 at 18:34
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Is the question about cats sheltering specifically on tires (as in the picture) or anywhere near the engine (as the caption with the picture seems to suggest)? –  iamnotmaynard Apr 30 at 19:59
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Yes, cats do that. Source: Personal experience. –  Hello World May 1 at 8:50

1 Answer 1

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Yes they do like to keep warm near the engine. After the car has stopped the engine will stay warm for a considerable amount of time, and a cat who is cold might find shelter in it. As explained by PetMeds.org:

Now that the weather is starting to get colder, outside cats seek out warm, sheltered spots. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a cat to crawl under the warm hood of a parked car as cats are drawn to the warmth of the engine compartment and the protection from wind and predators. Cats can easily be injured or killed by the fan belt when the car motor is started. If you live in an area with outdoor or feral cats around, there are some steps you can take to prevent injuring a hidden feline passenger:

  • Bang on the hood and/or honk your horn before starting your car.
  • If possible, keep your car parked in the garage with the garage door closed, and don’t allow your own cat access to the garage.
  • Also, before starting your car, take a quick look under your car for cats seeking shelter there.
  • Consider buying or making a cozy, safe shelter for outdoor cats.
  • If you turn on your car and hear any unusual noise, immediately turn off the engine and check under the hood.

Stories about it are plentiful:

Sometimes the cats aren't as lucky and are killed by the engine, like in this (SFW) video depicting a woman removing a dead cat from her engine compartment.

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The heat of the engine can attract all kinds of animals, like cows. –  Ilya Melamed Apr 30 at 10:28
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Stories about it may be plentiful, but is there any real data about how often it actually happens? I.e., "do they regularly get injured/killed from people starting there cars when they do?" –  iamnotmaynard Apr 30 at 19:06
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You've presented some evidence that cats will seek warmth/shelter near a car engine (either in the wheel well or under the hood), but the second part of the question was whether cats are regularly injured or killed because of this, which your post doesn't seem to answer. Aside from the video, in which one cat ostensibly died because of being on the wrong engine block at the wrong time (rather than dying of unrelated causes), I'm not sure if there's any evidence here that such injury/death is more than a rare, freak occurrence. –  iamnotmaynard Apr 30 at 19:52
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@keshlam I was under the impression that the purpose of this site is to provide evidence rather than opinions and anecdotes. –  iamnotmaynard Apr 30 at 20:38

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