Kitten goes through 35-minute wash cycle and survives

Many of us have experienced a laundry mishap or two, such as mixing our darks with our whites. Daryl Humdy of Oakland, Calif., arrived home in December to find a much more serious laundry calamity when his 6-month-old Siberian Forest cat, Natasha, accidentally went through an entire wash cycle.

The incident resulted in severe hypothermia and a trip to the emergency animal hospital, earning Natasha the title of Veterinary Pet Insurance’s Most Unusual Claim of the Month for December.

“My roommate was loading his laundry and left the lid to the washing machine open while he went to the next room to grab more clothes,” said Daryl. “He came back, threw his clothes in, and shut the lid to the washing machine without realizing that Natasha had jumped into it while he had been away.”

Natasha went through the full, 35-minute wash cycle. Daryl arrived home just as his roommate was pulling out his clothes to find a soaked and visibly shaken kitten. Daryl immediately rushed Natasha to the emergency animal hospital.

“Natasha was shaking and crying. I knew she was frightened, and I was frightened for her,” said Daryl.

At the hospital, Natasha was treated for hypothermia and shock, but was very fortunate to escape the scary ordeal without receiving any broken bones or other, more serious injuries. The veterinarian even praised Natasha as the most pleasant-smelling pet they had ever treated. Natasha has since made a full recovery and is as active as ever around the house -– except when she’s near the laundry room.

“Since I brought Natasha home as a newborn kitten, she had always been very curious about the washing machine,” said Daryl. “She would always take a peek inside, but I never thought she would jump in. My roommate and I are much more cautious around the house now, because we would hate for her to have to go through something like that again.”

Natasha’s incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in December by VPI, and was selected by VPI employees as the most unusual of the bunch. Honorable mentions in December included a blue heeler dog that sustained blunt trauma after being chased down and kicked by a mule, a poodle that was hit by a bicycle, and a St. Bernard that ingested a holiday ornament. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in December, Natasha will be in the running for the 2013 VPI Hambone Award. Other nominees include Chance, the Labrador retriever who was butted by a goat; Ariel, the Himalayan kitten who was trapped underneath her pet parent’s garage door; and Annie, the Yorkshire terrier that was stranded outdoors during one of the worst storms in North American history.

For more information about the VPI Hambone Award, or to read about all of the 2013 nominees, visit


About VPI Hambone Award

The VPI Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to rescue him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia.

The title was first awarded in 2009 to Lulu, an English bulldog who swallowed 15 baby pacifiers, a bottle cap and a piece of a basketball. The VPI Hambone Award and these unusual pet insurance claims have since helped to ducate the public about the unexpected mishaps that can affect household pets.

Stories and pictures of the VPI Hambone Award nominees are available at


Got a pet story to share?

Maybe your dog ate something weird, or your cat has a certain place that it likes to nap. Or perhaps you have a happy-ending story about being reunited with a pet after he or she was lost. Pets blog editor Rose Hayes wants to hear from you. Share your quirky animal stories by emailing Photos are welcome, too.

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