are space heaters safe for cats

Are Space Heaters Safe for Cats?

Space heaters and cats – is that a safe combination? You know exactly how cats behave: They think they are the queens of your house, like to tip over stuff and do whatever they want. Partly that’s because cats are genetically programmed this way. They like to own your place.

So, should you get a space heater if you have a cat at home? And if yes, which kinds of space heaters are safe for cats? And which safety aspects are important? In this article, we’re going to cover all of these questions so you can stop worrying!

After reading this, you’ll know exactly how to use a space heater and stay safe – even with a cat in your house.

I totally understand your worries. This is a headline of a blog post I found online

“Pet owners, beware! Cat gets toasted by a space heater”

Joan Coello

And below that headline, there’s this image of a cat with -indeed – slightly toasted fur. She just got too comfortable in front of the space heater.

In this post, you’ll learn exactly how you can cat-safe your space heater so your cat doesn’t end up toasted as well.

Are space heaters safe for cats?

As you can tell from the image I just showed you, not all space heaters are safe for cats. And not all cats are suited for space heaters.

There are two conditions that have to be fulfilled so you can use a space heater with a cat safely:

  • You need a pet-safe space heater.
  • Your cat should have certain character traits (I’ll list them later on).

First, we’re going to cover the space heater part. And later on, we’ll check whether your cat is suited for space heaters or not.

Which space heaters are safe for cats?

Lots of cat breeds have fluffy fur which is the most vulnerable part of your cat (regarding space heaters). In the worst case, it might even catch fire.

So, let’s find out which space heaters you should not use when you have a cat at home.

Generally, you should avoid all space heaters with exposed heating elements. 

Also, cats love to tip over stuff. Therefore, a solid and heavy space heater that is hard to tip over is a good choice. With a cat at home, you should always play safe – even though you might think your cat won’t tip anything over, unexpected things can happen quite often.

I could make various recommendations, but let’s stick to the two best ones.

Cat-safe space heaters are ceramic space heaters with a protected heating element or oil-filled space heaters.

From these two recommendations, the oil-filled space heaters are the best choice, because they’re quite heavy (solid metal with oil) in comparison to the ceramic heaters (usually plastic).

Oil-filled space heaters are effective for heating but they don’t get burning hot to the touch. That’s why I generally recommend them if you have pets (like birds) or kids at home.

They usually also have tip-over protection as well as a thermostat and overheat protection. From my perspective, oil-filled radiators are the safest form of portable heating.

Here’s the one I recommend:

oil filled space heaters are safe for cats
Image by monnibo

Other safety tips for space heaters and cats

Most space heaters you can buy are 1500W heaters. They are quite powerful. But when your cat is around, you could also use a 750W space heater instead of a 1500W one. It’s less likely to harm your cat.

Oftentimes, space heaters have a setting to decrease the power usage from 1500W to 750W. This will decrease the temperature and therefore lower the risk of an accident.

Oftentimes, you’ll find safety tips like:

Keep your space heater in a safe distance from your cat.

But these people are obviously not cat owners. Everyone knows that cats can reach about every point in your room. So that’s nonsense.

A space heater you should never use with cats

At home, I have the worst space heater you can think of for cats. It’s an 800W infrared heater with exposed heating elements that are protected only using a thin metal grid.

Even though it’s just 800W, it gets very hot to the touch – I just tried it and nearly burned my fingers.

infrared space heaters are not safe for cats
Space heaters with exposed heating elements are not safe for cats.

Even though this space heater is perfectly fine for me, it’s not for cats. Cats like to lie down right in front of it. If your cat’s fur would touch the hot metal grid, it might turn toasty brown.

If you have a space heater with exposed heating elements as well definitely go lower than 800W, it’s just way too hot. I can decrease my power to 400W (using the knob at the top), which I think is fine for cats. The metal grid is not burning hot then.

A 1500W space heater is fine as long as it distributes the heat in a protected way (like the oil-filled space heater I recommended above). But protected ceramic space heaters with a fan blowing hot air are fine as well.

Is your cat suited for space heaters?

So, now that you know what you should look out for when you get a space heater, here are some aspects you should look out for regarding your cat.

Generally speaking, cats can learn their lesson.

In a forum, I saw someone writing about his wood stove. Each evening he would heat his house with the stove. In the morning, his three cats would curl up on top of the stove enjoying the remaining heat.

He said that each of his cats at least once tried to jump on the stove when it was still hot. And each of his cats burned her paws.

But: They all learned their lessons and now they always check whether they can jump on the stove or whether they should wait for it to cool down.

I am telling you this, so you realize that cats are not stupid. They can learn new stuff and you don’t need to overprotect everything.

Anyways:

Here are some questions to answer before you get a space heater. They’ll help you decide whether you should get a fully pet-safe oil filled heater or whether a regular heater is fine.

  1. Does your cat love to tip over stuff?
  2. Does your cat curl up in front of the radiator, oven, or on your lap? (Does she love heat?)
  3. Is your cat curious?
  4. Do you think she’ll spend attention to the space heater?
  5. How old is your cat? (Older cats are usually sluggish and won’t do dangerous experiments with the heater)

If you have a young, playful and destructive cat, better go safe and get the oil-filled heater.

In case your cat is rather unresponsive and boring, you don’t need to worry much.

Why do cats love space heaters?

“As descendants of ancient desert animals, domestic cats are hard-wired to thrive in toasty climates.”

Mother Nature Network

That’s why cats crave for heat – they are genetically dependent on it – that also explains why they love human laps, radiators and space heaters.

It’s like keeping a penguin at home (just the reverse way). A penguin would always look for cool spots in your home because his genetics are made for cool environments.

In the wintertime, cats oftentimes actively look for heat sources if they feel uncomfortably cool in your home.

That’s why you often find images of cats in front of space heaters online.

By getting a space heater, you can actually improve the well-being and comfort of your cat and make your home a better place for her to stay.

Conclusion – Are space heaters safe for cats?

Answer: Yes, space heaters are safe for cats as long as you use a heater that doesn’t expose heating elements and that is difficult to tip over. Generally, oil-filled radiators are the best electric heaters you can get for cats.

In case your cat is rather sluggish, a regular space heater will do the job as well.

I would just make sure that the space heater you use does not get hot enough to burn the fur. You can mostly set your space heater’s thermostat to a lower level, which is already a solid safety measure.

Attributions: title image by Mr.TinDC

About the Author

Daniel Hirsch

Daniel is an electrical engineer, blogger, and author. He studied electrical engineering and information technology and decided to blog about heaters after working in the temperature sensing industry.