By Russ and Tiña De Maris
We recently shared with readers a news item that police in Saint Paul, Minnesota, had a free clinic to prevent catalytic converter theft. Their answer? Paint your cat! Before our feline support group has a collective heart attack, picture, please, nice policemen sliding under cars and painting – not furry friends – but catalytic converters.
Can you paint your cat?
The idea behind this anti-theft move is that at least reputable auto wreckers and recyclers will shy away from buying a catalytic converter that’s been painted. The brighter the color, the better. But some may wonder, can I paint my own cat?
The answer is yes, you probably can. If you’re agile enough to slide under your rig and manipulate a spray can, you, too, can paint your cat. Unless you own a Toyota Prius, your car itself is probably not as attractive as some vehicles for cat converter thieves. It seems the poor Prius converter has a higher amount of the elements that make cat converters so valuable. More value, more likelihood of some creeping cretin getting under your car and ripping it off.
However, pickup trucks are far more prone that many cars to have their cat converters kleptoed. Why? Because they sit up higher above the ground; hence, they’re easier to slide under without the need of a jack. Jake the Jerk slips under your Jeep and jacks your cat with a cordless saw. Motorhomes, because they’re typically even higher off the ground – and have a larger cat converter – have become real targets.
The secret’s in the recipe
How do you paint your cat? The secret’s in the recipe. The paint recipe, that is. Not just any old can of “tagger’s treat” is going to do the job. Cat converters get hot – really hot! Easily above 1,200 degrees, and sometimes pushing 2,000 degrees. So you need paint designed for really hot surfaces. Like exhaust system components. We found scads of suitably high-temperature paint, but the color selection generally ran in “primer gray” to black. Not too distinctive.
Here’s a “withstands 2000 degree” paint in bright red (and a couple of other bright colors) from Amazon. Order a can, and slip under your rig. We highly recommend wearing eye protection – a full face shield is ideal. Disposable gloves will help keep your hands pristine. And be sure to know which way the wind blows – it’s best to let the breeze blow the paint away from you – not onto you. In this case, we’re looking for “paint holidays.” Paint your cat with stripes running the length of the pricey-device. If it’s large enough, our crafty hearts might even suggest putting the word “STOLEN” on your converter.
And another trick might help, too
Got yourself an engraving tool? You could etch your rig’s VIN (vehicle identification number) onto the painted surface. Hopefully it won’t be needed to identify your part – just being there may be enough to discourage a wannabe thief from cutting it loose in the first place.
Save your converter. Paint your cat!