Monday, November 24, 2008

Okay, Now I'm Worried

Despite my feeble, intermittent efforts to train the cats, I've never really succeeded in convincing them that they don't own the tables and countertops. Magda, especially, delights in the game my kids use to play: go from one side of the house to the other without touching the floor.

This may take her from my desk, to the dining table, to the wide windowsill obstacle course that requires her to wend her way between the houseplants and the window - often tipping one or more of the plants onto the floor.

If I'm not around to disqualify her, she's nearly home free with a stroll across the counter with the glass surface electric range, an easy hop to the kitchen table, a longer leap to the kitchen counter and perhaps onto the top of the refrigerator for the coup de gras, up through a ventilation space into the second floor bedroom (the door of which is closed to keep cats out. Sigh.)

Returning for a moment to that counter with the electric range... I'm resigned to wiping off the kitty footprints in the morning and picking up the pile of papers they've pushed onto the floor. But last night they apparently turned on the stove. I'm serious. See those knobs on the right side of the range?

I came down this morning to notice the little glowing light that warns, "Hot Surface." I know I don't use the electric range this time of year, so I couldn't have left it on. I thought maybe the sensor that turns that light on was broken. So, in my pre-coffee fog I didn't look at the burner knobs, I just put my hand on the burners, one by one. Sure enough, one of the back burners was HOT. And sure enough, its knob was turned to "medium." Even when I use the range in the summer, I only use the back burners if the front ones are already occupied, maybe for a dinner party.

Then I noticed that one of the little wicker bread baskets that normally hangs above the stove was on the floor. Now I'm imagining that basket having landed on the hot, or at least medium, burner. And I'm thinking of the pile of papers that the cats push onto the floor most mornings. It could almost as easily go the other way onto the stove. So, I'm thinking, "What are the chances?"

Googling "fire caused by cat" brings me lots of stories about cats dying in fires and a few of cats saving people from fires. But the ones about cats causing fires should more properly be headlined "Carelessness causes fire," tho' that isn't really so newsworthy. I'll skip the one from the NYT in 1884 caused by the cat knocking over a coal oil lamp. And I'm ruling out unattended candles and faulty electric strips. Uh oh, this one looks bad: Fire Officials Blame Cat for Fire:
The gray and white cat apparently jumped on an electric range in the basement of a two-story home at about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday and turned on the push-button control, said Darrell Christy, the fire department's chief of operations. Plastic containers on top of the range smoldered.

"We eliminated everything except for the cat," Christy said. A smoke detector alerted at least three people in the home, who were not hurt, Christy said.

Push button control?! Who thought that was going to be a good idea? At least I've got knobs. Plastic containers on top of the range? I don't know.

I'm going to check my smoke detector, right now!

1 comment:

Minta said...

This happened to me once with a gas burner knob and a cat. Luckily, I was at home.

Most knobs come off the spindle they are on, with a pull and go back on the spindle easily. Try to pull it off and see. I learned to take the knobs off the spindles and put them in a drawer when I was finished with the stove, and to take them back out again when I wanted to cook. The cat can't make the spindles turn without the knobs.I hope this makes sense.