Jasper, a six year old female cat who broke a bone in her foot

Jasper is a home-loving cat.  She doesn’t like spending too much time in the cold world outside. Like many cats, she has an ability to seek out the warmest, coziest spots to sleep. Her favourite snoozing place is in a corner in the kitchen, where she has a soft cat bed, but later in the day, when everyone’s gone out to work and school, the kitchen cools down, and it becomes less appealing. Jasper has discovered that if she goes looking, she can find other comfortably heated spots to sleep.

This tendency to seek out warmth can sometimes get cats into trouble. During the winter months, vets regularly have to deal with accidents that are caused by this heat-seeking habit.

One of the warmest places to sleep – and one of the most dangerous – is underneath the bonnet of a car, curled up close to an engine that’s cooling down. Cats that live outside often discover that if they climb up under a car, they can wriggle into the engine compartment, where there’s usually a pleasantly warm flattened area to sleep. The problem is that cats often go into a deep sleep, only waking when the car owner is heading off to work in the morning. Suddenly the peaceful, warm sleeping area becomes a danger zone, with moving metal parts and no easy way out. Sadly, some cats don’t survive, and others are rushed to the vet, badly injured after the car driver has belatedly heard the yowls of a distraught cat coming from beneath their bonnet.

Even around the home, there are cozy sleeping spots that can become danger zones. The tumble drier is a good example. When it’s just finished a cycle, it’s full of warm soft clothing, and from a cat’s point of view, it’s the perfect bed. Just this week, I had to treat a cat that suffered serious injuries after somebody shut the door and switched on the machine to tumble for an extra fifteen minutes, not realizing until too late that the unfortunate cat was stuck inside.

Jasper has her own favourite hot spot in Max’s house. The central heating boiler is situated in the hall, beneath the stairs, creating a lovely warm patch of carpet on the staircase directly above it. Jasper loves to sleep here during the day, but there’s one problem: the stairs can be a busy place, with people often going up and down.

One day last week, Max was had to rush downstairs in a hurry, as teenagers often are. His footsteps woke Jasper with a start, and she leapt sideways to get out of his way. Unfortunately, she jumped in the wrong direction: straight into Max’s path. He couldn’t help stepping on her paw. Afterwards, she was walking on three legs, holding her sore paw in the air. Max thought that perhaps it was just bruised, but when she was still holding her paw up the following morning, it was time to bring her to the vet to be checked out.

I had to sedate Jasper to take an x-ray, and this showed me that she had broken one of the bones in her foot. It’s a minor break, and it should heal within a few weeks, but she’ll need to wear a cast on her front leg until it’s better. She’s not happy about it, but there’s no other way to make her better.

Jasper’s a fast learner: nowadays, she stays in her bed in the kitchen. It may be warmer elsewhere, but for peace and calm, you can’t beat your own bed.


  • Cats love to sleep in warm spots
  • Even if you provide a bed for your cat, somewhere else can be more appealing
  • In cold weather, cats sometimes find warm sleeping areas that can be dangerous

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Please note that I am unable to answer veterinary questions in comments. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health it is always better to contact your vet.

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