Warning: Cat food storage bins are killing cats

This is a warning story, the type I really hate to write but feel it necessary in order to help cat owners protect their beloved companions. It involves cat food storage bins and what should be a good product that is instead killing cats.

Petsmart container is still being sold (Petsmart.com)

Petsmart container is still being sold (Petsmart.com)

While it doesn’t happen often, one death is too many when it’s your cat. I’m talking about a cat food storage bins. These are sold to keep dry cat food fresh and bug-free and out of kitty’s reach until time to eat. Unfortunately, curious cats are finding their way inside the storage bin and becoming trapped, suffocating to death.

I read about a case about a year ago when pet parent Kari Willett came home to find her beloved cat Mowgli dead at the bottom of the bin among tins of pet food. Her cat was lying in a crumpled heap after furiously trying to get free until oxygen ran out. Kari posted to Facebook

“As many of you know, my sleeping companion, my caretaker from 5 hospital visits just this past calendar year died tragically yesterday. I do not post for sympathy but in hope of protecting others from what I experienced yesterday.

About a month ago I bought two “Top Paw” food storage bins from PetSmart. I loved how sleek and stackable they were.

Unfortunately, my cat of 5 years was able to open the lock, climb in (granted to steal extra rations), however after climbing in the bin, he was trapped when the lock fell back down on him. He was unable to get back out.”

PetSmart did send Kari a letter of sympathy after she reported the tragedy, but the popular pet food storage bin is still available on the PetSmart website. There’s a design flaw that makes it impossible for a cat trapped inside to open the cover.  PetSmart says they’re investigating their product.

There are other cat food storage bins out there that are just as dangerous. A few days ago I read on a friend’s Facebook wall about how his cat got inside his storage bin and managed to knock it over, trapping his cat inside. Like Kari, my friend came home to find his cat dead.

While these are freak accidents, they’ve left behind a lot of guilt by owners who were only trying to do right by their cat. This is a story worth sharing. Any little tidbit of information needs sharing because this isn’t something most of us would even think of as being dangerous.

Other methods of pet suffocation can be found here and are worth the read.

Elisa

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Warning: Cat food storage bins are killing cats — 28 Comments

  1. thats very sad that that happened. its an unfortunate accident that probably couldve been avoided, but hindsight is always 20/20. there r always things we see AFTERWARDS. im sure this is no different.
    for myself i didnt have a clue how many things they could get into in such a short amount of time. i THOUGHT, errantly, that if our living area/house was child-proof then it would be kitty proof. i was wrong. luckily my kitty didnt get hurt but after getting the second(who is a VERY intelligent Nieblung mix)his inquisitiveness got him trapped behind a bookshelf. once THAT happened i had to TOTALLY re-evaluate my idea of “safe”. safe WAS”child-proof” now safe= “kitty-safe”. meaning if it is within the realm of possibility that they COULD get into something i move, cover, or adapt the environment to fit THEIR safety & needs. sure it means i dont have nick-knacks, etc on shelves, & some doors remain closed, but it has kept my kitties(who will be 4 this October, yeay!!)safe, secure, & happy.
    i realized i had to treat them like the energetic, highly mobile, intelligent creatures that they are, & respect that. i mean, i changed the house around when my kids were born(& became toddlers…whew!) so why not do the same for my kitties? its worked so far. i figure the old adage, “better safe than sorry” should be the rule of thumb for human-cat co-habitation. im not perfect, & im DEFINITELY NOT saying it was the owners fault. u CANT think of everything, & god knows that person is probably needlessly blaming themselves already. i know i did when the kitty i rescued died (eventhough it wasnt my fault. she was sick which is why she was abandoned). hopefully the manufacturer will re-evaluate their product & make the necessary changes, & those of us reading this story, who have THAT product, will take extra precautions to avoid these unfortunate events in the future. my thoughts are with the owner that she stays safe & lets her kitty guide her to a new one soon. ur kittys love for u never dies.

    • Go to the little Google search box and type in “accidental ways to kill a cat.” I’ve done quite a few stories of things we never think of. The comments on some of the articles are better than the article itself.

  2. What a tragedy and poor kitties. I keep plastic bags put away, doors that should remain closed-closed and keep the toilet seat down. this goes for any containers wet or dry that a pet could fall into.Detergents are also tucked safely away; things we all think of doing for a small child.

    If my husband or I drop chocolate, peanuts, or human pill medications on the floor; everything stops until they are picked up and properly disposed of.

    Even so anything can and does happen, so we can’t be too cautious. Eva

  3. I neglected to mention that any types of cording string can either strangle a cat or accidentally be ingested, which requires surgery more often than not.

    Another word of caution-get rid of those mini blind cords and anything that they could become caught on.

    • its amazing the things we just forget or dont give a second thought to til we become responsible for another life. i was just lucky that more things didnt happen til i really got into the “kitty-proof” as opposed to the “kiDDie-proof” mindset. its tough, but its worth it. im totally thinking of investing in that super-dark or mirror tinting u put ON ur windows so u dont have to have blinds at all cuz there have been so many times when they bump the blinds. right now i just raise them & knot n cut the ends, but im beginning to think thats NOT enough(no pun intended). i just keep thinking, “all it takes is one time…”. u know?

      • Elsa_I remember reading your article. well written and informative. Thanks
        Eva

        We were at a motorcycle rally , an over-nighter. When we returned home ‘MaMa Theo’ our Maine Coon had a limp in her back leg. I finally came to the conclusion that the vintage Cosco metal folding stool we set up for her to get in the window must have caused it. She was either going up the stool or coming down and caught her back leg. I am sure her entire body weight wedged at the hip joint and was not in her favor. “anything can happen” That was over five years ago and Theo’s’ been on medication and cortisone shots ever since.She turned 16yrs this July. I feel absolutely rotten about it. Eva

        • I am sorry to hear this. It is so easy for these sorts of things to happen. And they do weigh on our minds.

  4. They are vertical toddlers. I have one of those bins that will probably get replaced tomorrow. Although it’s pretty hard to get open I can see either of my monkeys getting in should it get left unlatched.

  5. That is such a sad story. ?
    I have some old cereal storage boxes that I use for dry cat food. The lids snap on but the box isn’t big enough to entice a cat. I also have a small cabinet where I store the box. They really are not interested, but it could be because I leave dry food out all the time.

  6. Thank you for bringing this to the forefront..The friend referred to in the article is myself,and the cat that died was my beloved Spring… 🙁 I never would have imagined that he would climb into the container and become trapped…I miss him so much and I blame myself for his death…Please do not use containers with hinged lids or locking lids…

    • Thanks Jason for visiting and commenting. So sad to read about your cat. I am sorry to hear the news. Best of luck.

    • I feel so bad for you and your kitty. Please don’t beat yourself up. We assume that items we buy for our furkids would be safe for them, but evidently that is not the case. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  7. my heart is hurting for the loss of theses two kitties. this is extremely sad. i use a cat tin with secure lid an can only hold 4kg of kittie biscuits. as i foster kittens of all ages i find this a great alternative to other products for storing biscuits. please accept my sincere sympathy to you both,

  8. Dear All__I keep our cats food in a very sturdy cooler that can’t be left open accidently as we have placed a windowseat pad on top to use as a bench. their food stays fresh and only an adult can get into it for supplies. p.s.-no hinges just a heavy duty insulated plastic cooler.

    useful note: I used to store their dry food under the sink, until they learned how to open the cabinet.

  9. We’re lazy. We just roll the bag down. But we keep food available at all times.

    Jason I’m so sorry. I feel bad on not covering this when I heard about the first case.

  10. The most dangerous item in your home for kittens is the RECLINER chair, they hide up in there and when you sit back you can crush them.

  11. My thoughts are someone will read this and think what a pack of paranoid nuts. How often does something like this really happen.
    My answer, Once is enough if it happens to you.

    • My mother raised me as a paranoid nut 🙂 I grew up in the late 60’s/early 70’s and even back then mama preached to lock the car doors, lock the house doors and to turn down knives in the dish drainer after washing them so no one gets cut. Our cat Annabelle got her foot caught in the sliding kitchen drawer mechanism while she was under the cabinet exploring.

      • I used to help design horse facilities. I would literally physically stand in the structures and ‘ Be the Horse’ to try and eliminate potential hazards. And yet without fail no matter how careful we are our pets can get hurt. The best we can do is remove obvious and not so obvious dangers and hope for the best.

  12. I am a frequent visitor at Petsmart and will, happily, post signs on those sort of bins, as well as speak with management and corporate about the dangers.
    Thanks for the alert Elisa. My brain reels with the number of things that I have to do in order to safeguard my cats.
    To Jason Cooke… I am so sorry this happened to your beloved Spring.

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