By Nate Eaton of East Idaho News
IDAHO FALLS — An Idaho Falls grandmother is issuing a warning to owners of front-load washing machines after her cat died in a tragic accident Thursday afternoon.
“The washer started, and my daughter, who didn’t know the machine was running, put my granddaughter down for a nap,” Prestwich tells EastIdahoNews.com. “A little while later, my daughter went downstairs and realized the cat was inside the washer. She opened the door and found that Addie was dead.”
Prestwich’s granddaughter thought the cat was dirty and needed a bath. Every night, the grandmother and granddaughter do laundry together and the young child had recently become tall enough to reach the buttons.
“She thought she was helping and that the cat would be OK,” Prestwich says. “It was just a horrible accident, and we’re heartbroken.”
Felines harmed or killed in large appliances are rare but not unheard of. Most of the time the animals get into harm’s way without human assistance.
A cat in California named Natasha went through an entire wash cycle in 2013 and earned the distinction of the Veterinary Pet Insurance Company’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month.” Natasha recovered from severe hypothermia and shock after a trip to an emergency animal hospital.
“Pet owners need to remember to shut their laundry room doors and check machines before starting them up,” said Dr. Mike Nield of the Sunnyside Veterinary Clinic in Idaho Falls. “I’ve treated a cat who got stuck in a freezer and my own cat was even trapped in our dryer for a few days. Cats like to jump into things and hide, so owners need to be aware.”
Prestwich says her granddaughter “broke down bawling” once she realized the cat was dead. The family buried Addie in the yard Thursday night.
Prestwich hopes their story prevents similar situations from happening to others.
“Use the child-locks on the washing machines and teach your kids what can happen if you put animals inside,” she says. “It’s just a sad ordeal.”