By DAN KROSSE
Cats love to hover near cars to hide and keep warm. Some cat lovers worry the silence of Electric Vehicles make it difficult for cats to move away quickly.
CAR FORUMS ACROSS THE INTERNET
lit up recently after a pop star’s sister claimed her Tesla had killed more than one of her cats. Jamie Lynn Spears (Britney’s sister) later clarified that she wasn’t driving when the felines were killed and added that she didn’t blame Tesla, but Spears did challenge the car manufacturer to take a closer look at the issue.
Electronic Vehicles (EVs) continue to gain popularity with more and more car manufacturers coming out with electric models. Volvo, with a plant based in Berkeley County, has committed that half of their cars will go all-electric by 2025.
Part of the appeal of an electric car is how quiet they run — almost silent, like a golf cart. After transportation studies showed humans were more likely to be hit by hybrids or EVs than regular cars, the U.S. Transportation department made it mandatory last fall for hybrids and electric vehicles to emit a noise when traveling at speeds slower than 19-mph.
CATS AND EVs
So, what’s this all have to do with our pets? So far, there are no studies that show whether EVs are putting our pets in more danger. But after Spears’ Instagram post went viral, her concerns landed on the Tesla forum.
One commenter, “Bighorn,” wrote: “Cats getting killed from sleeping near warm engines/fan belts has always been a thing. EVs seem safer by comparison.”
When the weather cools down, cats are known to hover around cars for warmth. In a gas-powered car, the ignition noise is typically enough to send a cat out of harm’s way. With an electric vehicle, there’s little, if any engine noise and if a cat can’t hear it, they may not move in time to avoid injury or death.
A spokeswoman at Veterinary Specialty Care, one of Charleston’s largest emergency pet clinics, said she isn’t aware of the issue with electric vehicles showing up in the Lowcountry.
Charleston Animal Society’s Chief Lifesaving Officer Pearl Sutton says she’s seen several cases of cats being injured after getting too cozy with cars, but not necessarily EVs. Sutton says the three areas of a car cats love the most are:
Under the car
Under the hood by the engine
Sutton says she pushes her key FOB to honk her horn every night before she leaves work and sees community cats scurry away. She says tapping the hood is another good way to save cat lives.
Maya Morrill of North Charleston can talk about close calls for cats involving cars firsthand. Her ex-husband Rylan was finishing a shift at Gerald’s Tires when a woman who’d just driven from Charlotte (180 miles away) pulled in, saying she was hearing a kitten. After pulling off a front side of the car, out ran “Janet” who Maya and Rylan adopted. “She was so tiny, she had nestled up above the wheel well all the way from North Carolina,” Morill said.
“CAT MODE” COMING?
Tesla released a feature in 2019 called “Dog Mode,” that allows owners to leave the air conditioning or heater running while they’re out of the car. If the car battery gets low, they receive a push notification on their phone.
In her Instagram post, Spears suggested something like a “Cat Mode,” that would emit a noise when EV owners go to start their vehicle. Tesla has not officially responded.