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Ask a Vet: Quiet cars prove harmful to pets

POSTED: February 9, 2014 1:30 a.m.

I’m never going to be a ninja.

When I was 12, I had hopes. But as it turns out, being my size and having bad knees and ankles really is a drawback to your possible ninja activities.

When I bend down to examine a dog, my left knee makes a loud popping sound. Not exactly stealthy.

If you have a hybrid car, though, you have a ninja in your driveway. And that’s dangerous for your pets.

Most conventional combustion engines make enough noise to serve as a warning that the large machine is moving.

Even a four-cylinder makes enough racket to get your cat to wake up and move from a slumber behind the car. And a solid V-8 may send your dog yipping into the neighbor’s backyard from shock. But not so for hybrid vehicles.

At slow speeds, many hybrids only employ their electric motor for movement. This means very little noise is generated.

Sometimes this is very nice. However, I’ve had a client tell me through tears her silent car is the reason she backed over her cat.

Many experts predict hybrids and electric cars will be the solution to our energy needs in the coming decades. This may well be true.

But just like the humans who drive them, or ride along as a computer pilots the vehicle, our pets will need to adjust to this new reality. And like so many other instances, this adjustment is partly our responsibility.

So if you have a hybrid or electric vehicle, remember your pets. Older dogs and cats may have decreasing sensory functions and might not hear even a loud truck.

The quiet, white noise quality of sound generated by electric motors is hardly startling and may allow an unfortunate situation to arise.

Some clients practice extreme driveway vigilance. Some don’t allow pets into car areas. Whatever it takes, make sure your vehicle doesn’t benefit the environment, but harm your fuzzy family.

Nobody wants their cat killed by a ninja.

Matthew Sisk is a practicing veterinarian from Habersham County. Have questions about your pet? He can be reached at mattsisk2003@yahoo.com.


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