Categories: Cat Healthdeath

Accidental Ways To Kill A Cat

Furby and Lola say practice safe laundry

Furby on the washing machine

Always check INSIDE the dryer

Today I received an email from a friend who did the unthinkable. She killed her one year old cat. It wasn’t intentional. Her cat did what a lot of exploring cats do and climbed into her clothes dryer. My friend didn’t realize her cat was missing until it was too late. I totally sympathize with her as I have to do a head count at laundry time. Especially with my kittens who are fearless.

Just because your cat lives indoors doesn’t mean it is safe from accidents.

Her cat’s death got me to thinking about all of the accidental ways to kill a cat. At the end of this article, I’d like for the readers at to write in and let the readers know if I’ve missed anything.

At the top of the list is poisoning. Common household substances such as mothballs or antifreeze, houseplants or medication (pain relief) kept around the house can be deadly for a cat. So can foods such as raisins, grapes or artificial sweeteners. And it doesn’t take a large amount to prove fatal (Toxic to cats).

Another thing to watch out for is window blinds. Many cats like to climb them. They climb the cords as well as the blinds themselves. These can be a death trap if a cat maneuvers them wrong. Many cats have accidentally hanged themselves.

Recliner chairs can also be dangerous to an exploring cat. Cats like to hide under chairs. Unfortunately, the foot stool part of the chair can squish a cat if the cat is between the stool and the chair when the stool is being raised or lowered.

Car engines can also be deadly. I experienced this myself many years ago when I was caring for a white feral stray. I beat on the hood of the car as I’d always done. Perhaps my white kitten was deaf. All I know is a few seconds after I started the engine the kitten went running toward my doorsteps. I chased after it and picked it up. The fan belt had slung the poor baby to the ground. She died in a matter of a few seconds from blunt force head trauma. So readers, please be careful about cats and car engines.

Hot pans on the stove. Cats are curious about what we cook. Perhaps they want to be the first to sample the food. Just keep in mind a serious burn can cause an infection that can kill a cat.

Christmas trees also pose a danger to cats. Cats have been known to chew through the light wires and be killed by electrocution (cat swallows Christmas tree). Also chewing on ornaments or icicles can require surgery as both can cut the gastrointestinal system of a cat.

I happen to own a very accident prone cat. So far he’s fallen (and gotten stuck) behind the dryer, behind the stove and his head stuck in a hole in a banana box. I took out an insurance policy the first week I had him. I’d like to share that information with you as I researched MANY companies to find what I felt was the best cat insurance plan.

I pay a $15 premium and have a $50 deductible for each illness. After that the plan pays 100% up to $12,000. I know a lot of you don’t believe in having insurance on a pet, but I feel a lot safer knowing my accident prone baby does. I’ve also done a lot of stories about families whose pets have been seriously injured through animal abuse and the family has to struggle to pay the vet bills.

Please comment and let me know if I’ve missed anything. There are probably many more ways I've failed to mention. Please speak up if you know of any I missed.

I feel rather bad writing this article. First I tell the readers at PoC that outside life isn’t safe for their cats. Now here I go writing inside life can also be deadly!

Hopefully this article can save a cat’s life.


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Accidental Ways To Kill A Cat

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Dec 29, 2011
6 weeks is too young to leave mother NEW
by: Ruth

The person to blame for this kitten's death is the one who took her from her mother far too young. The very youngest a kitten is capable of looking out for herself is 8 weeks and preferably she should be with her mother even longer than that.
It's not your fiance's fault, he didn't do it on purpose and hopefully your story will save another tiny kitten's life as it shows just how vulnerable and fragile kittens are.

Dec 28, 2011
Suffocation NEW
by: Anonymous

On christmas day i got a 6 week old kitten! Well three days latter which was yesterday i had to go to work so my My finace who works third shift stayed with the kitten. My fiance who worked all night and had work again that night got tired and went to bed. The kitten joined into bed as he was sound asleep. He didn't realize the kitten was next to him and he rolled over and suffocated the kitten! I can home from work and noticed she didnt come to me so i started looking for her. When i couldnt find her i woke my fiance up to help me look tor her. When he turned and I moved the blanket off of him and saw her laying there dead I immediately burst into tears and was so angry at him!! He feels Horrable and burst into tears to and was in shock. I know it was an accident. But I was so angry cuz I loved her so much. Ive been cryin for 2 days and havnt slept. Did I overreact yelling and being so angry with him? And making him feel guiltyer. I was and am just so sad and depressed and Lonley and miss her sooo much! I was the one with her all the time. He loved her to but I feel like I loved her more. I'm the one that wanted her and taught her and slept with her since I brought her home. I kinda need advise!! But having a heavy sleeper that turns alot in bed with ur kitten is a way it can die!!

Dec 28, 2011
6 week old sofficated! NEW
by: Anonymous

On christmas day i got a 6 week old kitten! Well three days latter which was yesterday i had to go to work so my My finace who works third shift stayed with the kitten. My fiance who worked all night and had work again that night got tired and went to bed. The kitten joined into bed as he was sound asleep. He didn't realize the kitten was next to him and he rolled over and suffocated the kitten! I can home from work and noticed she didnt come to me so i started looking for her. When i couldnt find her i woke my fiance up to help me look tor her. When he turned and I moved the blanket off of him and saw her laying there dead I immediately burst into tears and was so angry at him!! He feels Horrable and burst into tears to and was in shock. I know it was an accident. But I was so angry cuz I loved her so much. Ive been cryin for 2 days and havnt slept. Did I overreact yelling and being so angry with him? And making him feel guiltyer. I was and am just so sad and depressed and Lonley and miss her sooo much! I was the one with her all the time. He loved her to but I feel like I loved her more. I'm the one that wanted her and taught her and slept with her since I brought her home. I kinda need advise!! But having a heavy sleeper that turns alot in bed with ur kitten is a way it can die!!

Sep 25, 2011
by: Anonymous

5 weeks old!!
Whoever sold/gave him to you should be reported. He should be with his mother until at least 10 weeks of age.
No wonder he was trapped,a tiny baby taken from his mother far too soon,unable to look after himself so young.

Sep 25, 2011
Dresser and baseboards..
by: Anonymous

My five week old siamese lil boy that we only had for two days died today stuck behind my sons small dresser....I'm heartbroken and so are my boys. I just can't understand how he couldn't get out. :(...

Jul 18, 2011
by: Anonymous

I just rescued my little kitten who got her head wedged underneath the door!!!.......I freaked out......Great article!!

Mar 16, 2011
Refrigerator and freezer
by: Elisa

I had a cat many years ago who would always join me in the bed when my husband left for work. One morning she didn't join me. I even went outside and called her with no luck. I came back inside and started calling her again. I heard a faint meow. I called her again and she meowed again. I followed the sound to the kitchen. Then I shook my head. No. It couldn't be. But it was. My cat had gotten in the bottom shelf of a 21 foot upright freezer. She'd been in there about 20 minutes when I found her. If I hadn't gone looking for her she would have died. I still have to watch out for kittens getting into the bottom shelf of the refrigerator.

Mar 16, 2011
Ovens & Rugs
by: Kitty Novich

Although I am a freak about checking the washer/dryer, I still will not turn either on until I do a headcount!

I have 2 hazards to add. Both have happened to my cats. I keep my broiler pan in my oven. I opened the oven to get it out right after I had turned it on to preheat. I went to set the pan on top of the stove's hood and just caught my cat out of the corner of my eye. She had jumped into the oven!! I had almost closed the oven door!! This has given me nightmares for years!!

The second incident was with a throw rug. The ticking around the edge of the rug had come a little loose. I never thought about it, much, except to think I should get some new ones soon. I was watching TV late one night while my husband was sleeping. I heard a strange cry. When I investigated, I discovered my small kitten had gotten his head stuck in the small hole. He had twisted it around like a tourniquet around his tiny neck. I screamed at my husband to get some scissors while I tried to free him myself. We cut him loose and he was fine. Very scary situation!!

Mar 16, 2011
Things that happen
by: Jan

About 30 years ago when I was young and married, I had just gotten a full-blooded burmese kitten. I'd had him about 4 months, along with a little tiger striped mixed breed the same age, and both were in the house.

Being in that "teenaged" age they were, they ran and played and chased each other day and night. It's amazing what they can do when they're rough-housing like two small boys.

We bought a new bed, mattress and box-springs. The store was coming to deliver it and remove our old one. My husband brought out the mattress and box springs and leaned them against the wall in a hallway to await the pickup.

You would never think that two small cats could disturb something as heavy as the box springs of a bed, but apparently these two did. We were watching tv and heard a thump on the other end of the house, but didn't think too much of it...wasn't that loud, surprisingly. In a few minutes, the tiger cat came into the den and laid down in the floor. Something suddenly told me something bad had happened.

We went to see and I couldn't even look. The box springs were flat on the floor with the mattress on top. No brown kitten was following us as usual. I buried him and cried for weeks.

For all these years I am very aware not to ever lean anything up against a wall no matter how stable it may look. That was a tragedy I'll never forget and a lot of heartbreak to deal with...

Mar 16, 2011
Declawing kills
by: Anna

Sorry to sound redundant, but we did forget declawing.
Not in UK, of course, not in Israel (I've heard they've just did it - made it illegal, hurray!), but here in the US it is still happening and it is deadly.
Declawing kills not only by taking away the only defense a cat has in case it encounters another animal at home or outdoors, or taking away their grip, so they may slide and fall. Just complications alone after that horrific mutilating surgery are deadly. When I brought this subject matter in class the other day, one of the students told us how his girlfriend's beautiful and happy kitty died just a couple of weeks after the declawing. He said they would never ever do it again.

Mar 16, 2011
by: Elisa

Another thing to remember if you hand wash dishes is to remember to turn knives down in the dish drainer.

Mar 16, 2011
Great article
by: Ruth (Monty's Mom)

There are so many dangers of which our pets are not aware. They are ever curious, which can lead to catastrophe. When Monty was very small I was cleaning the toilet one day and suddenly, there he was, and the next thing I knew his front paws had slipped into the toilet bowl. I screamed and he took off running. I was picturing burns to his skin and I was terrified he'd lick his paws or that some had splashed into his face or eyes. It took me a few moments to find him and wash his paws in the sink. (He didn't like that very much.) Then I picked up the bottle of toilet bowl cleaner to see if I needed to rush him to the vet for possible burns to his skin. Luckily, I had just switched to one of those green cleaners. All that was in it was a gentle coconut based soap. I put some on my fingers and rubbed it around on my hand. No burning sensation, like you'd expect from toilet bowl cleaner. I had just switched from a very caustic brand. That bottle was sitting there so I read the label. If I had been using that my cat would have had burns on his skin and a much greater chance of being poisoned or injured from it. The green cleaners don't kill germs; they state that on the label. But they are a lot gentler, not only on the environment, but on people and pets as well. That incident was so terrifying to me, and then I was so relieved that Monty got nothing more on his paws then a gentle soap, that I actually called the company and told them that I and my kitten really appreciated their product.

Mar 16, 2011
Think cat
by: Ruth

We only have one rule in our house and that is 'Think cat'
Our 2 boyz are 9 years old now but we still check the washing machine each time we use it even though neither have ever climbed in.
The worst that ever happened was Walter jumping in the toilet once when a gentleman friend left the seat up, the friend never did that again after feeling our wrath.
Rocking chairs are another hazard to cats as a little paw could be so easily crushed.
Another hazard you might not think of is toys tied on with string to cats play stations and scratching posts, one of our neighbours cats almost strangled herself when she got the string caught around her neck.
Like hot pans, hot irons are another hazard, a trailing wire to the iron on the ironing board can tempt a cat to have a bat at it and bring the iron down on himself. Never leave a hot iron unattended.
You are right Elisa, there are almost as many hazards indoors as there are outdoors.
Cats are not children but we need to think of them just the same as we do our children and watch over both cats and children as carefully as we can without smothering them.

Mar 16, 2011
Good info.
by: Kathy W

Great article. We found out about the window blind cords just last night. Our Quanah[the nosiest cat on earth] jumped down behind our dresser and got himself tangled in the blind cords. What a scarey mess. It took Jeff about a half an hour to get him out because he was freaking out of course. We have the cords behind the dresser because we obviously didnt think anyone would go back there. Well the great nosey explorer Quanah just had to get back there. I also had a friend whose cat died when a shelf fell off the wall onto her. Make sure your shelves are anchored properly to the wall as cats love shelves.

Mar 16, 2011
Thank you
by: LeAnn

Thank You again,
for the advice and to remind us what some of us may have forgotten or never knew!I really enjoy your writings,info,and the wonderful Furby and his tails and purrs! Also all the care and kindness you have for all these little angels you give a second chance,truly you have a heart of gold!! Thank you again...

Mar 16, 2011
by: Michael

I found this article useful, Elisa, because it covers a lot of areas where accidents can occur.

I think I'll do a post myself on reclining chairs. These really are very dangerous for cats in my opinion.

I don't have first hand experience of the dangers to kittens that reclining chairs can pose but I do know a high profile cat breeder who has a reclining chair and kittens do climb up the inside of it where the springs etc. are.

If a person sat in the chair and reclined the kitten could be crushed. This hasn't happened because precautions are taken but kittens do like to climb into these hidden spaces.

Another accident in the making is walking on a kitten or adult cat.

Cats get underfoot especially when feeding. If you are preparing food and your cat has come up to your legs and is rubbing against you or about to do that you can turn and accidentally walk into your cat. This could, it seems to me, cause a broken leg or worse.

Breeders have to socialise their kittens. This means they are left to wander around. If visitors come into the home the kitten can get walked on. Easy to do.

With kittens around we should look down at our feet!

Elisa Black-Taylor

Elisa is an experienced cat caretaker and rescuer. She lives in the US. As well as being a professional photographer, Elisa has been a regular contributor to PoC for nine years. See her Facebook page.

View Comments

  • Thank you for writing this article so people can be aware of the common things that are dangerous for cats.
    Purses or anything with cords that are hanging in closets. I came home from work about a month ago to find my beautiful 3 year old cat Mic Fuzzy Butt hanging from a purse strap in my closet I always shut the door but he could open them, drawers, windows and other doors. Nobody was home and he must of freaked out and was spinning cause the strap was wrapped tightly around his neck and I was to late. I never thought anything like that could happen I've heard of curtain blinds but never this I just wanted to tell my story so nobody ever has to go through what I just did. My heart is broken and I just wish I had been home to do something I'll never get that image out of my head and I'll never forget him he was the greatest cat ever and my dog's best friend both of us miss him so much 💔. RIP Mic Fuzzy Butt I'll never forget you.

    • OMG - your comment is very painful. Phew. That's hard to take. May I use it to write another article on this subject to warn others? Are you the only person living in your home? If not did the other person object to your cat?

      • Yes you may anything that can inform other people of the dangers of common household items so this doesn't happen to another person and I do live with my sister but she is just as heartbroken as I am we had had him since the day he was born from her cat ( anime ) who she had to put down last year from kidney issues so he was very special to both of us ( he was a lot like his mom 😔 who was also a great cat). We both wish someone had been home that day but we both work during the day so it's been hard not to beat ourselves up over it. We are now going to close all our bedroom doors whenever we aren't home once we do get another cat but that might be awhile still 😔💔

  • I have a cat who is a year and a half. He likes to jump on this shelf thing in the bathroom. I was just outside the bathroom when I heard him struggling, and I looked over and he was hanging upside down by his back leg. I ran and picked him up out of there. His claws went deep in my arm when I picked him up, but that's a small incident compared to what could have been worse had I not been there. I'm closing that door, until I can take that piece off the wall. There was another time where an old friend had her dog and the big cage kennel at my house. Another cat of mine got his front leg caught in the kennel, and was hanging there. I kept that kennel broken down under the bed after that incident. These incidents make me more aware that I need to steer clear of any furniture or objects that can be a hazard to my boys.

    • Thanks Daniel for your stories. They are instructive. There are many hazards in and around the home for cats. We have to be thoughtful and vigilant.

  • Collars can kill them by being kicked into their mouth and breaking their jaw or suffocating them. They can’t dislodge it when it’s stuck around their neck and into their jaw. Also if you leave jogging pants/shorts around some cats will chew and swallow the waist string or any string you leave around including on toys and get it lodged in their stomach or twisted around their intestines. They some eat buttons and parts of their toys too. Also rubber bands.

  • I had a cat once her name is Gemma she didn't die but I had to return it.... not cuz of me it's just stuff and I LOVED cats for that day on so now I have wenston my black and white cat he's a very lovable animal. I love him so much thx for the artical cuz now I can keep my kitty safe.

    • Thanks for commenting Anna. I am pleased that you love your cat. I am sure it is reciprocated.

  • Thanks everyone for sharing. I have approximately 6 hours before our little ball off gorgeousness gets here. I know some comments will be considered overzealous or paranoid but I think whatever info I have to interpret helps me.

  • Dear Elisa_This is Eva and I wanted to apologize for miss-spelling your name earlier. sorry but I think I typed Elsa.

  • Great subject, Elisa. We give a long list of all the dangers we can think of to each of our adopters. You and other commentators have listed many, so I won't repeat those, but here are some more that haven't yet been mentioned or some additional comments on those you did mention:

    Poisonous plants - anything in the lily family is very toxic to kitties if they even just chew on the leaves - Easter lilies, etc. are very bad - keep away from kitties. EMERGENCY POISON CENTERS: 1-800-548-2423; 1-900-680-000?; 1-888-4ANIHELP (press option 3). You can google "plants poisonous to cats" for a list.

    Potpourri, essential oils or even heavily scented candles can be poisonous.

    Electrical, phone and computer cords - some kitties like to chew on them. Mostly more of a nuisance to you, but if it becomes a problem put the cords under rugs/carpet or get some conduit from home or do-it-yourself store.

    Automatic flush cleaners in the toilet - some kitties do like to take a drink from the toilet or paddle in it - eeewww! Small kittens may not be able to climb out of toilets, pools, baths, buckets, etc. if they fall in.

    If kitties are running about playing chase, etc., and one suddenly makes a beeline for an open door or sliding door, try not to have the gut reaction of slamming the door shut - many a kitty has suffered a severe head injury this way. Be especially careful if your cat either goes outside or tends to escape into your garage that you don't close your garage door onto him or her.

    Some have already mentioned about kitties getting underfoot - be especially careful about them being behind you if you step back. I'm sure we've all stepped on our adult cat's paw or tail at some time and all they do is screech and run off, but a kitten is so small that stepping on it can cause serious damage or kill it.

    Many people medicines are toxic to cats -aspirin, tylenol, etc., sleeping pills, tranquillizers, blood thinners, heart and blood pressure meds in particular. Keep all of them away from cats.

    Many household products are also toxic: insecticides - especially those containing pyrethrins, rodenticides (warfarin, etc. - can cause internal bleeding - others may cause neurological problems); cats may also be poisoned by catching and ingesting poisoned rodents or insects, so be extra careful when treating homes or yards. Bleach, pine cleaners, caustic cleaners such as drain cleaners and mothballs can all be toxic. Cats may not only ingest substances - they may also walk through them and thus absorb them through their skin/paws and/or groom them off of their fur.

    Don't leave milk or other enticing drinks around in a glass or jar - kitty can get his or her head stuck and may then suffocate.

    Don't leave rubber bands, paper clips, needles, straight pins, fish hooks, etc. lying around. Ingestion can be fatal or at least very serious. Keep yarn, thread (especially with needles attached), dental floss, fishing line, string, ribbons, Christmas tinsel, etc. and anything similar away from cats or kittens - ingestion can be serious to fatal - getting it out requires major, expensive surgery, pulling on it can cut tongue or the intestines themselves, and don't leave string toys around unattended - not only can kitties can get the strings wound around their legs and go crazy trying to get them off, they can also ingest the string. They may even hyperventilate if caught up in the string. If this happens, have someone scruff the kitty and try to hold back legs together to immobilize, then have second person undo or if necessary carefully cut off the string. Watch kitty's mouth - might be so freaked out he or she could bite! Same goes for collars that are on too loosely - one finger slipped under the collar is about right - any looser and they can get them into their mouth and get teeth stuck in them, which in turn causes salivation and hyperventilation. Use the same scruffing method carefully to cut off a collar in this case.

    When choosing toys, pick things that can't unravel easily or have parts come off- the cheaper mice and such often have flimsy eyes and ears and tails that a kitten might ingest. Some "real" looking fur mice and toys with feathers are colored with toxic dyes that can come off if licked or if the toy is dropped in the water bowl; some "catnip" mice made in China may be stuffed with glue or other harmful materials.

    If you have a fireplace, block it off initially in case kitty decides to explore! They can climb right up in there!

    Never leave cats or dogs in the car - even for a a short while in hot weather - cars heat up like ovens, and kitty will soon have heatstroke and die.

    Don't leave out foil or plastic wrap with meat juices on it - whether raw or cooked - cats may ingest the wrap or foil, causing intestinal problems or even death - I know of a beautiful purebred Siamese who was trained to use the toilet and to answer to 50 different commands who ingested plastic wrap from her raw-meat diet and died despite emergency surgery - she had fished it out after the pet sitter forgot to lock the trashcan.

    In addition to banging on the hood of your car in case a kitty has climbed up in the engine, always check BEHIND your back wheels, especially in warmer weather - many a cat has been run over accidentally by its owner because it has been lying in the shade there.

    Make sure that heavy scratching posts or cat trees are well-stabilized - more than once I've heard of one falling onto a smaller cat or kitten and severely maiming it.

    Antifreeze can be a danger even if a cat doesn't go out but wanders into your own garage - just half a teaspoonful can poison tthe kidneys and kill, and it tastes sweet and is therefore attractive to cats.

    For cats who go outside, there are many more dangers - snakes, owls, hawks, eagles and other raptors, coyotes, cars, unattended dogs, other cats who may fight and transmit disease to your cat, yard, farm and industrial treatments that may be poisonous, getting accidentally shut up in garages, sheds, under houses etc. , which can be fatal in really hot or really cold weather, and people who simply don't like cats and will call animal control or shoot or trap and otherwise dispose of them themselves.

    And finally, if you have dogs as well as cats, do not use Advantix on your dogs. It is toxic to cats if a cat just touches the treated dog or you pet your treated dog then the cat. In addition, the packaging is so similar to Advantage for cats that it easily confused - many people have applied the dog product to their cats by mistake.

  • I rescued a kitty from under a mobile home... he had gotten his paw tangled in the nylon twine used to "strap" up the insulation underneath the home. He had been hanging there for several days and was starved, and dehydrated and his little paw was swollen 5x normal size. He would have definately died hanging there and it would have been a horrible long and torturous death. I had been doing TNR around there and someone mentioned faintly hearing a cat... they dismissed it, but I didn't and went looking for it, Thank God! Gimpy is still with us today, but he lost all the digits on his right front paw except one. He was a completely feral cat and is now a total lover who will hug your neck when you hold him - such graditude! xoxo
    I found remains of two other cats that appear to have been tangled in the twine under THE VERY SAME MOBILE HOME though. I was upset and helped the owner cut as many loose straps as we could and then also fix the skirting so that cats hopefully would not be able to go under the home anymore at all.
    Found a cat strangled by his own collar near there also. It wasn't the break away or stretchable type and he was found hanging from a fence top... the collar was caught and he wasn't able to free himself. Please include COLLARS in your list Elisa. xoxo

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