Outdoor Cats Are Using $500 Starlink Satellite Dishes as Self-Heating Beds

The devices—developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX—have a warming feature to prevent snow built up from disrupting the signal

Five cats piled onto a Starlink satellite dish in a snowy yard
Five cats pile onto a Starlink satellite dish in a snowy yard. Aaron Taylor via Twitter

As cold weather and storms plague parts of the United States this winter, cat owners can count on their fluffy companions to curl up in the warmest spots they can reach.

That’s what Aaron Taylor certainly seems to have discovered. On December 31, Taylor posted a photo of five cats curled up on his self-heating satellite dish on Twitter. The post quickly went viral, gaining over 190,000 likes and 26,000 retweets so far.

“Starlink works great until the cats find out that the dish gives off a little heat on cold days,” he writes in a Tweet.

Starlink is a satellite internet service created by Elon Musk’s SpaceX. It currently has more than 1,600 satellites orbiting in space, with permission from U.S. authorities to eventually launch up to 12,000, reports the Guardian’s Adam Gabbatt.

Starlink satellite dishes have a self-heating feature to melt snow, which may be why cats are drawn to it, reports the Guardian. Engineers created this feature to stop snow from interfering with the signal, but can the dish handle a pile of felines? On Twitter, Taylor says five cats snuggling on his dish interrupts his video streaming and “slows everything down.”

For those concerned about cats outside in cold weather, Taylor clarifies they do have access to heated cat house. But even when temperatures reached minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit, the kitties still used the satellite dish as a $500 cat bed. “When the sun goes down, they head back to their house,” he adds on Twitter.

He suspects these daytime luxury naps occur because sunlight heats the dish from the top, while the internal dish heater warms it from the bottom, he writes in another comment.

Still, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends keeping cats indoors to avoid dangers associated with diseases, parasites, cars, attacks from other animals, poisons, extreme weather. Preventing cats from going outside keeps native animals safe from predation and disease as well.

Other Twitter users quickly replied to Taylor’s post, including Nico Thirion, who posted a photo of a bird hanging out on a satellite dish. “Different species, same problem,” he wrote.

But critters on dishes aren’t Starlink’s only concerns, per the Guardian. Starlink made headlines in December after two near misses between Starlink satellites and China's Tiangong space station, leading China to accuse the U.S. of “ignoring international treaty obligations and engaging in irresponsible and unsafe conduct in outer space,” reports the Guardians Rhoda Kwan and Jon Henley.

Starlink satellites are responsible for 1,600 near-crashes in orbit every week, reports Futurism’s Dan Robitzski, a number that he reports is likely to increase as Starlink plans to launch more satellites.