Riser Recliner Chairs Can Crush Pets

By Mary Lou Conton

My beloved 10 year old, 18 lb Cairn Terrier, Harley, who grew up around Recliner Lift chairs (riser recliner chairs) somehow got swept under my mothers lift chair August 15, 2014 and was crushed to death. I am devastated, my mother is as well.

Cats and Dogs can be crushed by Recliner Tilt Chairs
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Cats and dogs can be crushed by Recliner Tilt Chairs. Picture of Harley on her lap in the death chair, during AFC Championship game Feb.2013

This picture shows the style of chair. Harley’s little body was stretched across the front bar, the chair goes down about 3″ above the floor when lifted. I believe the chair must have been reclined, and somehow, he got swept under it as she was moving from recline, to sit, stand. She is very hard of hearing, unable to wear a hearing aid, the tv is always very loud, so did not hear him.

He would have been 11 in January. He bleed out from his crush injuries, sadly was not found for a while, as she got up to go to bed, and I found him when I came home.

I am angry at myself, for not protecting him, at the manufacturer for not having better warnings, or not installing “Stop” mechanisms like garage door openers. I would gladly have paid more $ for a chair with this. Of course, I knew recliners could be dangerous to children, but thought that was corrected by making the “X” recliner mechanism smaller so heads didn’t get caught.

Since he was always around them from the time he was a puppy, and never went near the bottom of the chair I’m in shock. He always sat on her lap when I was out, never under the recliner part, as a matter of fact, she rarely reclines. The woman at the cremation place told us this is a fairly common cause of death for cats, dogs of all sizes as well as ferrets, etc.

Also, sofa beds commonly trapped and kill pets. I looked through the manual, a tiny one-inch warning logo, in black. I talked to the medical supply store, never heard of this, never warned anyone. They promised me, they will ask if there are pets in the home to anyone who comes in to but one, and warn them of the danger.

There should be better safety measures in place. Heartbroken! Thank you, for sharing your story and I am sorry for all of the people who’ve posted losses. R.I.P. Harley, hope there really is a Rainbow Bridge and I see you again. <3Associated Page: Recliner chairs and kittens

Mary Lou Conton

P.S. from Michael. Mary Lou left a comment and I decided to make it an article to spread the word a bit more because this is such a tragic accident. It should not be allowed to happen. Cats are particularly good companions to elderly people so these chairs are more likely to be a hazard to many cats in homes. How many are hurt or killed?

P.P.S Reclining chairs can kill people too. A cinema-goer was crushed by a reclining chair as he searched for his keys and phone underneath it. It took 15 mins to release him and he died in hospital a week later of a hypoxic brain injury. The chair had malfunctioned and they’ve since been replaced. The cinema was fined £750,000.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
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Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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30 Responses

  1. Mary L Conton says:

    Just heard of a cat who became caught in “Hairpin” style legs on a table. They are often found on Mid Century Modern style furniture and often on new pieces as well. As the cat panicked it became further wedged in the leg. Fortunately the person was home and able to rescue their cat. Easily could have been a devastating outcome with crushing chaet or head injuries. Mary Lou, original poster. Harley, Run free at the ? Bridge.

  2. Meow says:

    Wow I’m so glad I read this. I’m so sorry for what happened to your beloved Harley. I was looking at recliners today for my father but then I though it could be dangerous for my cats and I remembered someone telling me years ago that her cat had been killed by her motorized garage door. And I vowed never to get anything like that. I don’t know why I was even considering this. Rest in peace Harley and all the other for babies who have perished or who have been injured by recliners and lift up chairs. They can never be safe. I do not even think the lift up chair is safe for an adult because if they’re frail at all it might cause them to fall. I’ll just get a normal chair, maybe one with an ottoman or something like that.

  3. MRS MJ ANDERSON says:


    • Michael Broad says:

      Thank you for telling us your story. These chairs are very dangerous for small pets. The manufacturers don’t give a damn. It is as simple as that.

      • Mary Lou Conton says:

        Mrs. Anderson, I am so thankful that you were able to rescue your beloved dog. Wow, wonderful that the other dogs were able to alert you in time. I never heard a word from the manufacturer of the recliner lift chair we had or any other company. Every now and then I peak at the chair labels or brochures when I am in a hospital/medical supply store and still no warnings about pets, tiny warning for children’s safety. Still missing Harley. My beautiful, tiny SATO Barbie is doing great, no danger from chairs, but there are always hidden dangers. Michael, thank you again for your compassion and for helping to spread awareness.

        • Michael Broad says:

          Thanks Mary. My first encounter with this sort of furniture was when I was in America visiting the cat breeder A1 Savannahs.

          They had a recliner in the living room which was very surprising because they had kittens being socialised all over the house. We discussed it but I don’t think they did anything about it.

  4. Mary Lou Conton says:

    Harley has been gone since August 15th, and is still very missed. This article is now posted at a local visiting nurse agency, they were shocked to learn of Harley’s death, he was a favorite with them. This past Sunday, I brought home a Sato, rescued from Puerto Rico. She will never replace Harley, but she will be as loved as he was. “Barbie” will be safe. Of course there are always dangers, so I post this update, perhaps someone will see the article for the first time. Please keep your beloved fur-babies away from these chairs. Peace, Mary Lou <3

    • Barbie looks gorgeous. So sweet and I feel sure your article has saved lives. Something good I hope has come out of the tragedy.

      Thanks for updating us, Mary Lou. It was nice of you.

  5. Ruth aka Kattaddorra says:

    This is so very sad and a warning that there are many hidden dangers indoors for pets.
    I was reading recently about a cat who suffocated under his new plastic cat bed, it had rolled over with him in it and trapped him underneath, there were no air holes!
    We have to ‘think cat’ all the time! My blood runs cold to think of how many pets are killed accidentally in their own home.
    R.I.P Harley

  6. Barbara says:

    What a terrible and sad story I’m so sorry for all concerned with this tragic accident, I can imagine the horror and guilt and sheer devastation and grief it has caused. I can well believe that those chairs can be the cause of death for many small animals and have cringed at times when someone has mentioned owning or purchasing one when I’ve known cats live in their house. It’s the reason we wouldn’t even have a rocking chair in our home, you just can’t be too careful. RIP Harley.

  7. Kylee says:

    Yes just like Everything today. Got to Keep an Eye on Kitty or Doggy that they not under there. I have a newer Model of one of those Chairs. I guess Kitty/Dogs or any animal will go anywhere, where its warm and Comfortable. Just like with Children you got to always be mindful.

    • Mary Lou Conton says:

      This chair is just 2 years old, we’ve had several over the years. We have no idea, how or why, nor does it matter. We were mindful of his safety. VERY! He never went under it, or under anything for that matter. The only thing we can think is he was swept under it while either standing too close, or laying down alongside the chair, which again is not something he did. My mother did have a blanket draped over her legs, so she didn’t see him. Even if I had been one or two rooms away, this could have happened, I just would have found him sooner, but I believe the result would have been the same. The issue isn’t an irresponsible pet owner, it is irresponsible furniture manufacturing. Trust me I feel horrible over his death. If only I was home; if only I had crated him every time I wasn’t in the room with him, or every time I went out. My mother is alert and oriented, not confused or irresponsible. She just has hearing loss and some mobility issues due to arthritis. He was a great companion to her, and she to him. One month ago today. My heart aches. <3 R.I.P. my sweet little boy. <3

      • Kylee says:

        Yes i could say it would of been an accident. I cant remember what I wrote as it was a month ago. Sorry if I upset you. I’ve never had this happen but its a good awareness, for those of us who dont have same Problem. Yes my Lounge suite is new too. I got it in 2011. It must be so hard that they gone. After having something like this happen. Sorry for your Loss. 🙁

        • Mary Lou Conton says:

          Thanks Kylee, Yesterday was just a tough day, one moth without Harley. I appreciate your comments. I have distributed copies of this article to groomers, vets, pet stores in a 15 mile radius so far, and they have happily posted it. ML <3

          • Kylee says:

            Aww its never easy is it. To matter what happens to our Cats or any animals. It takes awhile to Grieve. Sometimes It takes Forever. It would be rather worse when its an Accident. It would just be horrible. Your in the best Place here as we really do understand. At least your’ve put awareness out there. Which is great as makes more Awareness. 🙂

      • I agree that manufacturers need to do more. They need to think of companion animals as well as people when creating these products. There are other examples such as fire retardants in furniture to which cats are particularly vulnerable and new carpets with chemicals in them which can hurt cats.

        • Mary Lou Conton says:

          Excellent points, I will add that information to the cover letters I am sending along with a copy of this article to the manufacturers of Recliners, Lift chairs, Sofa’s here in the US. I will be happy to send it to carpet manufacturers as well. Quite often the fabric suppliers, also make carpet, etc. I agree, the chemicals can be quite toxic.

          Thank you again for your concern and kindness in placing Harley’s tragic death front and center on your site. Though he was a dog, he truly loved cats. Our neighbors cats and he communed peacefully for years. Hopefully we can cause some changes to be made in the industry and at least are raising awareness here.

          Adding a picture of Harley on a hospital bed, visiting, his Nana just home from the hospital. “Jama-time.” Harley spent the majority of his time naked, as just a dog. 😉 He did ride, as a passenger, lol, safely in a specially made pack with Doggles on a Harley Softail.

          Mary Lou

  8. Geri says:

    I agree,Michael. Fortunately,it is just my son and me here.We do not use the recliner,but there have been a couple of times a guest would throw back the recliner. Upon going to get up would hear shouts of,”Don’t move! The cat!” So no one is allowed to recline in the recliner. Same as being told not to stand with the door open to prevent cats from getting out.

  9. Geri says:

    I am so very sorry.I worry with the recliner here,too.Healing prayers to you and yours.

    • I remember visiting A1 Savannahs and the Stuckis had a recliner and they had F2 Savannah cats running around the living room. I was scared for them. I mentioned the danger to them. I’ll be brutal. I don’t think there is a place for recliners in homes with cats.

  10. Dee (Florida) says:

    I can’t.
    I have no words.

    • Manufacturers seem to be oblivious to the dangers.

      • Mary Lou Conton says:

        Michael, Thank you so much for making this an article. There is very little on the internet about this, a few forums here and there someone may have posted a comment. I am still in shock,I have to look at and listen to the noise of this lift chair everyday. It is in perfect condition, but I swear I will take a hatchet to it the day it is no longer needed. I will not donate it to a charity, even though I am sure someone could benefit from it. I will never risk another animal (or child’s!) life again with this type of chair. Even larger dogs die from getting their heads caught, they like to be close to their “humans” and fall asleep, the person gets up and well, another tragedy. I have written to the manufacturer, no response, I have called, left messages, been told someone would “get back to me.” Still waiting. I swear Harley’s death will not be in vain. There needs to be a “Stop” mechanism on lift chairs and even recliners, that if they detect anything underneath the chair will not be able to move further. Similar to an automatic garage door. This was not a dog who was unfamiliar with adaptive equipment, his entire life he was around it. I am a nurse, my brother was handicapped, my husband was on dialysis at home. My mother is elderly and frail. He went to nursing homes, he would ride on the electric wheelchair with my brother. We have an electric hospital bed. Our house was as dog proof as it could possibly be, or so I believed. It only takes one time. He was well loved, well cared for, and I never in a million years could have imagined this happening to Harley. I am attaching a picture of a swivel, glider, recliner made for use in a nursery, by a company called Bentley. Note the black fabric or plastic that protects anything from being swept underneath, looks like a simple fix, or at least a start, if it’s safe enough for a nursery, it has to be safer then what’s sold for the “regular market,” or “handicap use.” Please people share this story on Facebook or wherever. Get the word out. Thank you for the kind comments, I can only pray it was quick, my poor sweet little boy. R.I.P. Harley, until I see you again.

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