In a tragic piece of pet news, a 3-year-old accidentally killed her family's cat after placing it in a front-load washing machine, EastIdahoNews.com reported.
According to the report, the "horrible accident" occured when the small child put the cat, named Addie, in the machine and turned it on, not knowing it would cause harm to the pet. The girl then went down for a nap.
The child's grandmother, Jamie Prestwich, told the news site, "She thought she was helping and that the cat would be OK." The girl's mother would eventually find the cat, deceased, in the machine. Prestwich said the family is "heartbroken" over the ordeal.
Lindsey Wolko, founder of the Center for Pet Safety, calls this situation especially tragic, as the young child did it by accident. Supervision is key when it comes to small children and pets in a household, Wolko said. "Without parental supervision, incidents like this can occur," she told petMD. "Teaching your children to be safe around all household appliances is important."
In addition to supervision, all pet parents should be aware of potential harm in the laundry area of their homes. While incidents like this are rare, cats trapped in front-load washing machines have experienced head trauma and aspriation pneumonia, according to a study shared by the National Institutes of Health.
"Curious cats can find their way into a front- or top-load washing machine—but the dryer may be the bigger attraction because of the warmth," Wolko explained. In order to keep cats out of the space, Wolko recommended closing the laundry room doors, as well as putting a child safety lock on the equipment. (She also pointed out that pet parents should check the make, year, and model of their machine, as it may have an auto-lock feature.)
In addition to these precautions, Wolko recommended that cat parents double check their laundry machines before starting them up, to make sure their adventurous feline hasn't found her way inside.
But, it's not just the machine itself that pet parents should keep an eye on when it comes to their cat's safety. "Laundry detergent pods can be mistaken for treats or toys by pets," Wolko said. "They contain concentrated detergents and are highly toxic. Simply consuming a taste or small amount can sicken your pet. If you believe your pet has swallowed detergent, you should contact your veterinarian or your emergency veterinarian immediately."
To prevent an emergency, keep these items off of shelves and place them in tightly sealed containers out of the reach of pets and children.
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