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Halloween Safety Tips for Pet Owners
Halloween Safety Tips for Pet Owners

Frig Fails & Dryer Danger! How to Keep Pets Safe From Appliances

by | Feb 17, 2020 | Cat Behavior & Care, Dog Training & Care | 11 comments

Are your pets safe from appliances? Stoves and ovens, dishwashers, clothes dryers, garbage disposals and other appliances are convenient for us but can prove deadly to cats and dogs. While the photos in today’s blog make us smile, the “what if” makes me shiver, because I know they represent tragedy waiting to happen.

Bravo-Dawg does his best to “pre-wash” the dishes, like the puppy in the picture, below. But any small pet could potentially climb inside when you’re distracted. And that could be lethal.

dog in dishwasher

Anything your puppy can reach is potential for problems! Image © Lisa Calvert/Flickr

4 REASONS PETS LOVE APPLIANCES

  1. FOOD & SMELL. Do you give your pets the chance at a “first rinse” before putting dirty dishes in the washer? (raising hand…GUILTY). Just licking off or pawing food-smeared utensils can cut tongues or paws. A tiny pup or kitty could crawl inside after yummies, and be seriously injured or die when the machine turns on.
  2. HEIGHT. Do your cats countertop cruise? A couple of things draw the kitty to scale the heights. Available food, yummy smells, and a GREAT perch lookout.
  3. WARMTH. Stoves, ovens, and clothes dryers draw cats, especially to the warmth. Yep, it can make for some LOL Funny Cat moments, but not if the cat or dog ends up with burned feet or worse.
  4. HIDEY-HOLES. Pets seem drawn to small enclosed spaces for naps or ambushes. Paw-poking into holes is a cat rule, while dogs enjoy nosing into tight spots as well.
cat on stove

Sprout apparently hasn’t had enough coffee! Image Copr Kim Smith/Flickr Commons

Funny–NOT Funny! Keep Pets Safe From Appliances

When I edited one of the stories in Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul, it made me turn green–and we had to preface the story with the note that “it’s a happy ending!” or folks likely wouldn’t have wanted to read it. The cat in that story went head-first into the garbage disposal after fishy leavings and got his head stuck. They had to remove the entire sink and take it to the vet clinic for the cat to be sedated, oiled up, and extricated. Funny story when it’s a happy ending. I’ve caught Karma-Kat sticking his paw down into the garbage disposal, too, yikes!

Sadly, not all funny stories end so well.

cat in dryer

As far as I know, Audley’s adventure in the tumble dryer turned out fine. Image Copr. RaGeBe/Flickr

Cats And Dryers

My friend Mary McCauley sent me a message last week that broke my heart. This post is for Mary and her kitty friend, Boo:

“Amy, a few weeks ago our beautiful young cat had climbed into the dryer. My son turned it on. I heard a loud thumping and thought the washing machine was out of balance. I found Boo in the dryer. Blood was coming out of her mouth. She was convulsing. I ran up the stairs to get my keys, but she died in my arm. I tried rescue breathing and cardiac resuscitation with two fingers, but she was gone. I cried for two days. Please warn your readers about this danger. My son felt so guilty for a few weeks.”

Accidents happen, and our pets can get into trouble in the flick of a whisker. Cats are furry heat-seeking missiles and I have no doubt that Karma-Kat would do the same thing, given the opportunity. Even Bravo loves to dive into the pile of fresh-from-the-dryer clean clothes dumped onto my bed for folding. A ride inside the dryer could cause not only head and body injuries but also heatstroke.
cat in refrigerator

Pets In Freezers? Oh no!

A day after I got Mary’s message, my husband called me into the kitchen to shoot this photo (below) of Karma-Kat. He’s a door dasher and often sprints into the pantry to gnaw through the dog food container–but the frig fail was new.

Karma is big enough, the chance of shutting him inside the frig is small–but it could happen. Left overnight in the refrigerator–or worse, inside the freezer!–could quickly result in hypothermia and death. I’m just hoping he doesn’t learn to open the frig himself. I know of one owner who resorted to a bungee cord around the frig to keep her cats out of the goodies.

Pet Proofing Appliances

So what’s a responsible pet parent to do? Pet proofing your home is job one, especially when you have a clueless puppy or kitten. But it doesn’t stop when the cat or dog grows up. Pets are endlessly curious and always find new ways to get into trouble and push our buttons. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your pets safe around modern conveniences.

  1. Baby gates keep pets away from danger zones. I lock the fur-kids out of the kitchen when cooking and clearing up, to prevent paw burns on stovetops or me spilling something hot on them when they wind around my feet.
  2. Double-check washing machines and clothes dryers before hitting the “start” button. If your pet is inside, don’t pull them out immediately. Instead, BANG-BANG-BANG on the top to make a horrendous scary racket and watch them rocket out. Most pets won’t get near that scary thing ever again.
  3. If you have hard-case pets, make a sign to stick on doors of appliances to remind kids, spouses, and guests to CHECK FOR CAT. That’ll be a fun conversation starter, too. 🙂
  4. Invest in stovetop covers to protect kitty feet. One of the best ways to keep pets from cruising counters and stoves is to give them a cat tree that’s higher than the counters. Make the stovetop uncomfortable by spreading aluminum foil across the top, for instance.

Have you ever caught your dog or cat up close and personal with one of your appliances? How did you handle the situation, and prevent future problems? Do tell!

And please–if you love your cats and dogs as much as Mary loved Boo–share this warning far and wide and tell folks it’s in memory of a special Boo-kitty.

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11 Comments

  1. Sue Bacon

    We had an orange tabby who loved to bee-line into the laundry room and behind the dryer. He knew we couldn’t reach him. So after one exasperating day of constantly grabbing him before he could run back behind the dryer we decided to close the door on him and give all our other fur babies a treat. We rattled the treat container to get all of them in the living room. Mac was not happy. He stuck his paw under the door and tried to pull it open. He meowed so pitifully. We let him out after everyone else had finished their treats. He ran all around the room, checking to see if anyone had left anything behind. It didn’t stop him from running behind the dryer, but it was funny to watch.

    Then there was the day when he got his claw cover caught in the disposal. I had Mike hold him while I frantically fished around in the disposal to find out how he managed to get his claw hooked on one of the blades. After a few seconds which seemed to drag out for hours I got him free. The claw caps are a good idea only if your kitty doesn’t nose around the disposal.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Oh no! I hadn’t thought of the claw-catch potential. *scribbling a note* So glad that Mac was okay.

      That’s funny about the missed treat. That can work really well for dogs–but cats, not so much, it seems. LOL!

      Reply
  2. Vandi Clark

    I have those cute burner covers on the stove. They may get a little warm but if one of my babies were to jump up there (They’re getting too old and fat now.) the metal would be warm, not blistering hot. Last time I saw Dreamie on the stove, she was carefully picking her way around the covers. I suspect she’d learned her lesson without blistering herself.

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Vandi, that’s a great idea. I have the ceramic top so the burner covers won’t stay in place, I don’t think. Cats do have a much higher heat tolerance but they also have incredibly sensitive paws. A burn would be excruciating.

      Reply
  3. Jean Meyer

    I had kitties that used to want to climb on the stove because wrens were ‘trying’ to start a nest in the outside range hood vent. I tried the aluminum foil ‘trick’ and that didn’t stop them. Then I tried upside down mouse traps under the foil to make loud noises. Before I left the house one day I heard the traps snapping. One cat – Rascal (very appropriate name)- was on the foil on the stove walking around ‘slapping’ each mouse trap to make it ‘pop’. I watched from ‘afar’ and after she had popped each one the other two cats hopped up so they could sit on the stove and look up at the vent and listen to the wrens outside chirping!!!!

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      LOL! That’s a smart kitty! Wow. You’re right, foil doesn’t “foil” all cats. Something else that can work is getting the plastic carpet runner and place it nub-side up across the top of the stove.

      Reply
  4. KimT

    Having been a foster home for years, we had plenty of cats and kittens underfoot. After one was tumbled briefly in the dryer (the thumping made me turn back and check it out) – I faithfully checked the dryer thoroughly before shutting the door and turning it on. I was so afraid that would happen again, but not be noticed right away! And there were plenty of times I found a kitty amidst the damp clothes.
    One of our own cats has an obsession with the frig. Don’t ask, I haven’t a clue why! Fortunately, his mrow’ing is loud and clear, audible through the closed door, so we know to go get him out of there.
    Grateful for your post, Amy, this important subject of safety is all too often neglected by pet parents!

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Oh my… If Karma got shut inside the frig I fear he’d try to est his way out before he’d call for help! Glad your dryer riders get caught in time.

      Reply
  5. Bernadette

    I’m not sure if I’m the one you mention with the bungee cord on my refrigerator, but that was my recourse when Kublai managed to pull open the door of my old, small refrigerator. But that wasn’t my only recourse in trying to keep him safe from it–I also rebalanced the leveling feet to tilt it slightly forward so that if I forgot the the bungee cord and he got the door open and stepped inside, the door would fall farther open instead of swinging shut. I’d rather all my food spoil than come home from work to find him in the refrigerator.

    And on the subject of all other appliances, they stay CLOSED (so has the toilet lid, since the first kitten decades ago). No leaving doors open and tossing clothes into the dryer over time, it’s look around, open the door, toss the clothes and close it. Same with the washer. They have a cabinet in the middle of the kitchen where many of them can and do collect to watch everything, no need to jump up on any counter or the stove. I’m really happy my “new to me” stove has a pilotless start wherein the handle has to be pushed in and turned for the pilot to light before the burner lights. On my old stove my cats could and did, accidentally, reach up and turn burners on! I had a hard time “foiling” that!

    Reply
    • Amy Shojai

      Hi Bernadette! There must be a number of cats that need the bungee cord cure, LOL! Another friend had a cat that stole the frozen turkey one Thanksgiving. Your solution sounds like a good safety precaution! And yep, at our house, all the toilet lids stay down, too. *s*

      Reply
  6. Catwoods

    Washers and dryers have always worried me. Even when I “know” I’ve seen no cats enter, I don’t turn them on until I’ve made visual contact with each cat who had access to the area, counting heads when there was more than one cat. It’s inconvenient because I may have to look around, but it’s worth it to me to feel better about their safety.

    Reply

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