Categories: cat welfare

Stairlift Hazard to Kittens

It seems that stairlifts can be hazardous to small cats and kittens. The RSPCA described this as one of its “top ten most bizarre animal rescues of 2016”.

It is amazing how many unforeseen hazards there are to cats around the home. And cats are often companions to elderly people who might have installed a stairlift. We know about the legendary inquisitiveness of the cat. On this occasion it concerns a stairlift.

Kitten pulled from stairlift

There would appear to be sufficient space between certain types of stairlift and the rail supporting it for a cat to crawl into and become stuck. Clearly this could prove fatal if the stairlift was activated.

One retailer discusses the potential danger of stairlifts to pets and people. Stairlifts have safety sensors which stops the device if a pet is detected. In addition some of these devices has sensors in the mechanism preventing a pet being crushed underneath the chair.

However, these safety features would not have prevented this kitten from entering the space that she did. It may be wise to train your cat to stay away from the stairlift when in use. I am not sure if anyone would entertain that idea. Perhaps the simple solution is to make sure that either you know where your cat is when you are about to use the lift or check around the lift to make sure it is clear.

In this instance the kitten, Maggie (a grey tabby), was following her owner down the stairs. She crawled into the space within the mechanism (see photo) and her owner had to call the RSPCA and her vet to help free Maggie.

The vet sedated Maggie and tried to ease her out without success. Inspector Towler of the RSPCA used a jack to force open the space in which Maggie was stuck by her stomach and hind legs. She was gently hauled out.

This must have been a scary moment for both cat and owner. It had never occurred to me that stairlifts could be hazardous to cats. This “bizarre cat rescue” serves as a warning to others.

See pages on dangers to cats.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

View Comments

  • Yeah, the first time I saw these advertised on TV I thought it is another hazard, despite whatever sensors is has. Cats often find a way around what engineers think. People just don't know cats well enough yet.

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