When the days are cold and the nights are long, settling down by the fireplace with your laptop, a good book, or your phone might sound pretty tempting.
The warm glow of the fire doesn’t just attract people, it attracts animals too! Pets absolutely love to hang out in warm places, sometimes to a degree we can’t understand. Some cats have been known to park their bums right against baseboard heaters and fall asleep!
So, while we bask in the fire’s warm glow, we have to ask ourselves if we are doing so safely, not just for ourselves and our children, but for our furry friends as well. How do we keep our cats safe around the fireplace? Let’s run through it.
First things first, if your fireplace has a glass door/covering, keep it closed. Cats are curious animals, and we wouldn’t want to create a situation where they were drawn toward an open fire. They run the risk of getting too close and burning their paws, whiskers and other hairs. A fireplace screen can also be an excellent deterrent if a glass door is not possible.
Try to create a bit of a barrier around your fireplace. In an ideal situation, something like a baby gate would be able to surround the fireplace to maintain a healthy distance between the flame and your cats. Keep in mind that this may not be the most aesthetically pleasing solution, but it is a safe one.
Keep all your tools, such as pokers, kindling, lighters, and anything else that might cause an injury or issue behind the barrier or up high where the cat can’t reach them.
Setting up your cat’s favourite bed within a safe distance from the fireplace is a great way to encourage them to keep their distance while still getting the warmth they seek. Something like an ottoman, or a small piece of furniture with a cat bed safely near the fire can be just what the doctor ordered for your furry companion!
Many fireplaces come with a mantle, and these can sometimes attract the attention of a cat if there are dangling decorations, especially during the holidays. Cats should be encouraged to stay away from the mantle, whether that is in front of it or on top of it. You can keep your cat away by making any of the accessible points of the mantle less so with larger items.
Carbon monoxide is a deadly, odourless, tasteless and colourless gas. If you have a fireplace in your home, be sure that it is being cleaned regularly and that you have a functional carbon monoxide detector in your home. Improperly maintained fireplaces can create carbon monoxide in your home. Animals are just as susceptible as humans to this dangerous gas so we need to be sure we are actively preventing the conditions that create it, and testing for it regardless.
Special Note – Wood Stoves
Wood stoves can be especially dangerous for a cat. It’s not obvious when the metal is hot to a cat, and they run the risk of jumping on top and burning themselves. Cats love a warm surface and if they think the top of the stove might be a good place, you could be in for some trouble.
The most important step you can take when you have a cat and a wood stove is to actively monitor your cat while the stove is burning. If you have a wood stove, make sure you also take the appropriate steps to keep pets away, such as metal screens surrounding the stove, and keeping the glass door shut.
Keep Their Distance
At the end of the day, the best way to keep your cat safe around a fireplace is with distance – be that with a screen, baby gate, or by placing their bed far enough away from the fire.
Keeping your cat away from danger is always the best course of action. Being the curious animals they are, if you leave it to chance, the odds are they will eventually want to climb on your stove or get too close to the fire.
Cats need answers and it is up to us to be sure our human environments aren’t posing a threat to our feline friends. Be safe!