More than 100 fires in the South Korean capital were kitty-caused, according to the city’s fire officials.
Cats are cute, but they’re also good jumpers - something people in South Korea have found out the hard way.
In Seoul, 107 house fires were triggered by cats, who jumped on touch-sensitive buttons on electric stoves, turning them on. Once stoves overheated, they caught fire, according to the South Korean capital’s fire department.
More than half of those fires happened when the cat’s humans were outside of their homes. As a result, the Seoul fire department urged citizens to guard their furry friends carefully to prevent fires, which have now damaged a lot of properties, injuring four people in the last two years.
"Cat-related fires are continuing to occur recently. We advise households with pets to pay extra attention as fire could spread widely when no one is at home," said Chung Gyo-chul, a fire department official, according to CNN.
Of course, cats cannot be blamed for all fires in Seoul, but they have proven to be the most arson-prone and were responsible for the most pet-related fires, the department noted. Pet-related fires have increased in recent years compared to previous years, according to the fire officials.
But compared to South Korea, pets in the US, including cats, are working much harder at triggering fires in American households. At least 1,000 fires occur in the US every year due to pet behaviour, according to the American Humane Association.
So make a new year’s resolution: Let your cats jump on you, not your stoves. But also ensure safety, particularly your modern touch-button stoves, when you are outside the house.
Cats hunting in bushfires
Apparently, cats have an enigmatic relationship with fires. They are not only triggering fires in houses but also hunting vulnerable animals in areas with bushfire burn scars. According to a study, feral cats are particularly “attracted to areas that burned recently and tend to avoid ones three months or older.”
So cats like bushfires, locating them using their sense of sight and smell, then can travel as nearly as 20 miles to a burn scar, according to experts.
During last year’s terrible bushfires in Australia, cats’ brutality was in full sight as feral cats exploited bushfires to hunt injured animals. “Roaming cats might stay away for up to 50 days, massacring helpless locals on a now barren landscape,” Wired reported last year.
When other animals are trying to flee bushfires, cats are moving toward fires to hunt prey in Australia. Hugh McGregor, an ecologist at University of Tasmania, resembled them to “the mop-up crew” of fire departments.
“They're waiting and watching, and they will continue to hunt until every last prey is gone from that area. It's an extra level of meticulousness that a lot of native predators don't tend to have,” said McGregor.
But cats’ killing capacity goes far beyond bushfires.
Beside climate change, free-ranging domestic cats, which kill 3.7 billion birds and 20.7 billion mammal animals per year alone in the US, also worry experts for the future of the world’s ecosystems.
Experts also pointed out that cats kill sometimes just for hunting, not eating their victims. As a result, they are called “surplus killers”.
Cats in Australia are apparently more dangerous than their other brethren living in different countries. They are more lethal in the country “because no cat is native to Australia,” wrote Matt Simons, a science journalist.
As a result, “native species aren’t adapted to avoid and escape them.”
Cats live all over Australia except 2 percent of the country, according to estimates. “At their most plentiful, 100 cats may pack into a square kilometer,” Simons pointed out.