Flights and Fancy: How to Degauss a Cat
- By G. Curtis Hoskins
- Air & Space magazine, August 2010
© Leon Suharevsky/istockphoto. Photo-illustration By Théo
The idea came to me after I read a magazine article describing how an aircraft can become magnetized simply by flying through Earth’s magnetic field or when electrical currents flow through an aircraft’s structure. It can then generate its own magnetic field(s), which may confuse a compass, radio and navigation aids, and other instruments. Magnetic fields could affect not only light aircraft but also rockets and astronauts. Surely we wouldn’t want our rockets or astronauts to be wandering around space without accurate instruments for navigation and control.
The process of eliminating magnetic fields from an object is known as degaussing. We tested the effects of outer space on dogs and monkeys, so how about testing the effectiveness of degaussing on animals that are sensitive to such things?
Cats are ideal for this purpose. Note when a cat is lying in a certain orientation. Pick it up and then put it back down. If it chooses the same orientation (to magnetic fields), then it is in need of degaussing.
The procedure, which is best conducted before placing the cat inside the capsule or rocket or other confined space, is as follows.
First: Take the cat outside and coil a lightweight copper or aluminum wire loosely around it, beginning at whichever end the cat prefers, or allows. The coil may be either right-handed or left-handed, but be sure to note the direction of the coil and whether the cat is left-pawed or right-pawed, so the outcome may be correlated later.
Second: Wrap either end of the wire around a long nail and drive the nail into the ground. Note which end of the wire is used.
Third: After a suitable period of time, remove the wire from around the cat, or remove the cat from within the wire. Cats generally choose the suitable time period, and will pretty much take it from there.
Finally: Check to see if the cat’s direction is more random when lying down. If so, then the procedure has been successful. If the cat still appears to be polarized and unduly oriented within the magnetic fields, then a repeat of the procedure is recommended.
If the cat does not respond to the above, then “self-degaussing,” in which the cat frees itself from the magnetic fields, may be worth a try. This procedure is also best conducted outdoors, as will be obvious later.
The cat is caused to lie on its side, or better, is found lying on its side of its own accord. An eyedropper is used to place two or three drops of three-percent hydrogen peroxide into whichever ear is facing the dropper. At this step, it is important not to try to restrain the cat, lest one become subject to the various contaminants the cat sheds as it leaves magnetic fields behind and joins the squirrels in the trees. Here one may notice how gracefully the cat leaps from tree to tree, once freed from the bonds of polarization, magnetic fields, and other inconveniences.
After trying this method, note how the cat no longer appears entrapped by magnetic fields, as evidenced by the cat changing direction whenever you enter the room, and going elsewhere at a high rate of speed.
Cessna 182 owner G. Curtis Hoskins, now retired from his practice as a pathologist, writes about the natural silliness of the world.