How to Keep Your Cat Out of the Washing Machine & Dryer

Cats don’t jump into front-loading washers and dryers every day. In fact, nobody keeps statistics on cat injuries sustained when going though a spin cycle.

But, it happens. And it nearly happened to my cat years ago.

I was living in a one-bedroom condo with a tiny laundry room. As I bent down to separate my whites from my darks, my 6-month-old calico kitten jumped into the open washer. I was about to close the glass door and turn on the machine, when I saw Blaze curled up on the clothes about to be washed.

My heart nearly exploded as I grabbed Blaze and thought about the seconds that separated my kitten from certain injury or death. Twenty years later, I still cringe at the thought.

Cats harmed in large appliances are rare, but not unheard of.

Last year, a Siberian Forest cat named Natasha became a celebrity when the Oakland, Calif. pet went through an entire wash cycle and earned the dubious 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. But many cats aren’t as lucky.

Injuries from cats in washers and dryers include:
Hypothermia
Hyperthermia
Broken bones
Muscle injuries
Crushing injuries
Kidney damage
Head injuries
Drowning

Dr. Karl Landrey, a Californian veterinarian specializing in critical care, once treated a cat for hyperthermia after being trapped in a dryer. Cats suffer hyperthermia when their body temperature climbs above 106 degrees F; dryers can reach 175 degrees F.

“Cats more commonly jump into dryers than washers,” Landrey says. “They like the warmth. And they hate water.”

Cats also jump into appliances because because small, den-like spaces make cats feel secure.

“Cats love to sneak into hiding places where they can observe and monitor their surroundings without being seen,” says Cori Gross, a field veterinarian with Veterinary Pet Insurance. “They are also very curious about new places to explore. Washers and dryers fit these criteria perfectly!”

It’s rare for a cat to go through a complete washing or drying cycle, Landrey says. Owners most often hear an odd sound coming from the appliance and investigate fairly quickly.

If you’ve got a curious cat, here are precautions you should take, says Gross.

  • Always keep appliance doors closed when not in use.
  • Keep doors to laundry rooms closed so kitty doesn’t get used to going in there.
  • Before you turn on the washer or dryer, do a hand sweep to make sure your cat hasn’t jumped in.
  • Tape a sign to the machine reminding you to be on the lookout for curious cats.
  • If your cat ever gets trapped in an appliance, immediately take him to a vet for assessment.

Related:
Warning Signs Your Cat is Lonely
7 Things Cats Don’t Let You Do

132 comments

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla10 months ago

Sharing

Katie D.

Even a couple of second's this could happen it doesn't have to be very long. Just turn your head and reach for the rest of the thing's and throw them in and it's too late. They have already moved so quick. yes always check.
Thank you

Barbara D.
Past Member 1 years ago

Keep the lids closed and stay close by for a few moments.


Keep the lids closed and start the machines only after checking and stay close by for a few moments.

I've seen far too many cats in the emergency room...and most don't leave.

Susan T.
Susan T.1 years ago

Yeah I know it happens but both my cats are way too lazy to do this type of stunt!
I have seen cats who have tumbled dry...not cool. Mostly other people have done this to be mean to the cat owner...

Briggitte A.
Briggitte Arnold1 years ago

Happened to one of my cats long time ago. I had the dryer loaded, turned it on and heard a bumping sound a couple of times. Then stopped the dryer and opened it to find my cat in between the laundry!! Nothing had happened thanks god!! Must have sneaked in before I loaded it and I hadn't noticed.
Now I always keep everything closed and double check before I turn on!!! Never happened again.

Teresa W.
Teresa W.1 years ago

very interesting

Barb Hansen
Ba H.1 years ago

what on earth takes you so long to load the washer? or did you throw the cat in with the dirty towels?

Mary Cromley
.1 years ago

Close the door to washer or dryer immediately after putting laundry in or taking it out, without turning away even for a second. How hard is that?

Kay M.
Kay M.1 years ago

this can happen to even conscientious animal guardians. always check before closing the doors, even if you only turned your back on it for a moment.

Debbie S.

Both washers and dryers should always be closed other than when you are loading them and obviously people need to pay attention to where their animals are. Our washer and dryer are in the basement and the cat never follows us down when we are going to do laundry. Thanks for sharing.