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Scare away thieves: Paint your cat!

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!

Related

The scary truth about thousands of catalytic converter thefts

##RVT996

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Jesse Crouse
13 days ago

Don Corleone and Luca need to get into the cat protection business. There needs to be physical pain to get the message across to thieves. A friend of mine grew up in the Bronx in the 50’s and 60’s. No one locked their doors and no child predators. Harsh but human nature is what it is.

TIM MCRAE
1 month ago

I was going to do the CAT STRAP. It is a reasonable price but I figured to really do it right on my RV it was going to take 2 of them (top & bottom).

So I did the SS wire rope (5/16″). I wrapped the Cat at least 4 times end to end clamped to the pipe with large SS band clamps and each end was wrapped around crossmember or through the frame. It is like a flexible cage attached to the frame and not tight so it can move enough with no squeaking or rubbing.

Total cost was less than $150 including the RED Loctite for the nuts. I used the whole roll of wire (because it was cheap enough) because it was impossible to cut cleanly with out very powerful electric shears.

Stephen Malochleb
8 months ago

My two cents worth being in the business for many years. #1, some scrap dealers don’t care where you get the cats,they just want the guts and will break the insides out and discard the shell. #2, a cheap sand blaster will easily remove the paint. #3, going back to number 1, engraving can be useless.
My solution, buy some good quality aircraft cable, doesn’t have to be 3/8s or larger. Can be 1/8 inch. Start at the pipe just in front of your converter,wrap it around at least 2 times, put a muffler clamp on to hold it in place, then wind it around your converter to the opposite end pipe, again wrap around at least 2 times and clamp. Either damage the threads on the clamps or even better weld the nuts on and you have created a nightmare to cut it off. This should deter any thief as it will create a much longer and harder process to remove. Remember they want to be in and out in the shortest time possible. I will try to crawl under my MH and take pics and post later.

Bob p
1 month ago

Very good reply, as most thefts occur at night unless the paint glows in the dark a thief is not going to see the paint until he’s got the “cat” in the light. The cable is the cheapest protection as it’s very hard to cut without the use of a cutoff grinder which makes a lot of noise as it’s running.

Michael Gardner
8 months ago

I bought high temp paint, made a STOLEN template out of cardboard and labeled both sides of mine.

Dennis
1 year ago

Didn’t know that Honda made the Prius. thought it was Toyota. At least my Prius was made by Toyota.

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
1 year ago
Reply to  Dennis

Fixed. Sorry ’bout that. Thanks, Dennis. 🙂 –Diane at RVtravel.com

Bob
1 year ago

I really don’t think that painting the cat will help. Most scrap yards don’t care what color it is. Engraving may help, but then again, how many scrap yards actually look that closely at them.
Plus the thieves know what scrap yards accept them, no questions asked.

Bob P
1 year ago

Some how I don’t think a thief is going to pay attention to what color it is since he’ll be in the dark working by feel with a wrench or a tubing cutter as a saw makes considerable noise cutting through steel. The whole idea is QUIET!

Tom M
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob P

A tubing cutter or wrench take too long. I’ve seen camera video where the perp is under for less than a minute.

John L
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob P

Night and quiet doesn’t matter to these thieves. A few weeks ago, someone tried to steal the cat from my old pickup behind my garage. They cut through the back and about half way through the front pipe when something scared them away. It was about 11am and I was home but that didn’t stop them. The cops caught the guy, but since he didn’t succeed in stealing my cat, they didn’t have any concrete evidence to be able to arrest him. At least it was only about a $10 pipe section and about 10 minutes of welding to fix it… for now.

Bob p
12 days ago
Reply to  John L

That’s the perfect example of stupid criminals, prisons are full of them. The smart ones are still on the street committing crime. Only a stupid one would attempt a theft in broad daylight? Lol

Roger Christianson
1 year ago

Me thinks it is a Toyota Prius!

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
1 year ago

Thank you, Roger. It’s been fixed. (I read your comment this morning but it didn’t sink in until the comment from Dennis arrived a little while ago about the same mistake.) Have a good night. 🙂 –Diane at RVtravel.com

Bob p
12 days ago
Reply to  RV Staff

Proof readers must be hanging out with Johnny Robot type journalists who let their fingers do the walking before their brain is engaged. Lol

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
12 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

😆 Except that was from a year ago, so that was before I had ever heard about the Johnny Robots of the world. (Not to mention the fact that I don’t know anything about the different types of cars out there these days, hence the oversight on my part. I own a ’75 Suburban and a ’79 T’bird. Just sayin’.) Have a great day, Bob. 😀 –Diane

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