Back on the Butterfly, Reprise

four cats in front of furnace vent

Back on the Butterfly

The other day when I ran the first image of my cats sleeping on the butterfly rug in front of the heater vent, I was remembering this image from this day last year, October 6, 2010. There you see three of the black cats with little, little Peaches, Giuseppe to the left, Jelly Bean to the right and Mr. Sunshine next to him. They LOVED their little big sister in a way I was glad for since I think it added to Peaches’ last years, but Giuseppe especially escorted Peaches around the house, the two of them so sweet in their May-December relationship, he 3 and she 20.

The furnace came on the first time this season on Sunday night, and Peaches wandered into my office and sat in front of the furnace vent at the foot of the stairs, her favorite sleeping spot. In honor of the occasion I unpacked the cleaned and rested butterfly rug for her comfort.

Just as if the heating season had never ended last spring, the boys all gravitated toward it and joined Peaches while she tucked herself in between them. Giuseppe and Jelly Bean gave her a few licks and purred, but mostly they just transferred warmth and youthful energy. I swear it’s what keeps her going so well.

I just have to leap over them to get to the steps, but what’s a little inconvenience for the comfort of up to six cats?

One caution if your cats sleep around heating sources such as furnace vents, wood stoves or cooking stoves—make sure they don’t press against any heat-producing source. Cats are heat seekers, but they can easily burn through their fur down to their skin if they curl up against a standard furnace vent, the legs or other parts of some wood stoves, especially older ones, fireplace apparatus like screens or andirons while the fire is burning, some radiators or even an old-fashioned gas stove top with the pilot underneath. You’d think they’d know they were burning themselves, but haven’t you ever burned yourself on the stove or on a grill and not immediately known it?

This vent is intended for high-traffic areas and is an alloy coated with Teflon. It doesn’t hold enough heat to burn skin or fur while the furnace is blowing hot air unless the furnace goes above 85 degrees (mine never sees 70). I tested it with my own hand.

I have all my other vents, which are basic painted metal and can’t be replaced because of their size and placement, surrounded with a wire cage—nothing fancy, I made it out of vinyl-coated fencing held far enough away from the vent that the wire or vinyl can’t build up enough heat on the outside of the cage. Most newer wood stoves or other burners have protective barriers on legs and parts around the bottom, but the fireplace and stove are still an issue requiring care. I actually had a cat who slept on the stove top over the pilot, and I had to layer cookie sheets over it so he wasn’t directly in contact with the hot metal where he repeatedly re-burned his front leg.

Happy cuddle season!


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Instant Old Friends

two cats in cat bed

Holly and Houdini, rescued by Judi Stadler

You just never know where you’ll meet another cat lover. The only sure thing is that you will meet them, even when you’re just on a simple quick errand and you meet during the process of something else entirely.

I needed a can of matte black spray paint for a sign bracket I’ll be installing today, and I discovered I was completely out. The local Family Dollar usually carries this so I decided at 8:30 p.m. to drive the quarter mile to the store to save time, then I could come back and have dinner.

I faced an empty shelf in that department, apparently their truck had come in late and several of us were wandering around trying to figure out if we should just go home or try another store.

A woman was wandering aisle to aisle hoping to find, as I learned, canned milk, which was also an empty spot on a shelf. We commiserated, “Darn, they always have black spray paint!” “Darn, they always have canned milk! And I was here earlier and came back when they said they might have the stuff unpacked!” and tried to figure out if there was anyone else near who carried these things. There is not, and we knew that.

She mentioned the closest place was a grocery store about three miles away, but she was walking and didn’t have a car, and I could see she had a stiffness in her gait.

I had decided that, since I had to paint this thing tonight, I had to run to Lowe’s, which was right by the grocery store.

“Well, do you want to ride down there with me?” I asked. “I have to go to Lowe’s, it’s right next door.”

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