A house fire that occurred on Jan. 16 in Nagata Ward, Kobe, was caused by cats urinating on a fax machine, the city's fire department said Thursday.
According to the department, the thermal printer head of the machine was extensively burned, and members of the household told the department their nine cats often urinated on the machine.
In an experiment using the same model machine, the department dripped a sample of 0.5 milliliters of urine on the printer head's nine elements, which were spaced 0.5 millimeters apart. The first droplet conducted the electrical current, and by the 15th, the machine produced a spark.
An official of the National Research Institute of Fire and Disaster said, "Cat urine contains salt, and salt water conducts electricity well. This probably caused the fire."