Cat Stuck In Freezer
Veterinarian Reviewed on October 22, 2009 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
In Te Kuiti, New Zealand, 27 year old, mother of two, Sarah Crombie, found her family’s cat lying rigid and semi-conscious on top of a dog food bag in her freezer.
Upon opening the freezer to get out a loaf of bread, Sarah said that she heard a strange noise.
“I was looking in there and I heard this funny noise. It was sort of a ‘meow’ but he was so half-frozen he couldn’t get the noise out properly, poor thing. So I look down and I see this grey fluffy thing sitting on top of the bag of dog food under a rack.”
The previous night, Sarah’s partner, 28 year old Sid Sisson, had closed the top-loading freezer’s lid without knowing that their cat, Krillen, was inside.
Because Sarah and Sid keep their freezer at the coldest setting, roughly 18C or 64F, Sarah was afraid that Krillen wouldn’t survive.
“I raced inside to get Sid and as I came out, Krillen rolled off the bag in an attempt to get out, but he was that frozen he just rolled to the bottom of the freezer on his back,” she said.
“At first we thought his eyeballs were frozen. I’ve never seen a cat with such big eyes.”
Luckily for Krillen, Sid understood how vitally important it was that the body temperatures of hypothermia patients be raised slowly.
So Sid picked up 1 year old Krillen and placed him under his shirt. Next he climbed into bed with Krillen in an attempt to keep him warm.
Sid, who is a dairy farmer, spent the next three hours with the half-frozen cat on his bare chest under the bed’s blankets, until Krillen had thawed out.
“I was sitting on the other side of the bed and the whole bed was vibrating from this cat shaking,” said Sarah.
Miraculously, Krillen survived his 19 hour, frozen ordeal unscathed.
“But I tell you, he doesn’t go near the freezer anymore,” said Sarah.
One of the senior lecturers at Massey University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Dr. Nick Cave, stated that whilst Krillen’s survival was remarkable, it was probably due to Sid being able to slowly warm Krillen up.
Dr. Cave recalled another inquisitive cat who had survived being locked in a freezer for over 24 hours, but who then developed frostbite on its toes and ears a few days later. This cat also developed signs of kidney damage as well.
Dr. Cave recommended that Sarah and Sid take Krillen to their local veterinarian to check for any internal damage, even though Krillen did not have any signs of frostbite a week after the ordeal.
In a study conducted in 1952, it was found that at -5C or 23F, a cat’s metabolic rate rose by almost a third.
“So putting a cat in the freezer means it would presumably have to use up an enormous amount of energy to maintain its body temperature,” said Cave.
Other than that study, there has been very little research conducted on a cat’s ability to survive extreme cold temperatures. However, studies have been conducted on dogs.
Many years ago, scientists placed Huskies inside freezers in an attempt to study how the Huskies would cope with the severe cold. This was, of course, a long time before there were animal rights activists!
From a study conducted in 1959, 6 out of 7 dogs were able to maintain their body temperature for up to 27 hours at -50C, and then for another five hours at -79C.
Earlier this year in July, an Australian cat called Maisy, survived 10 hours inside a fridge.
The cat’s owner, Bill Nelson of Warrnambool, Australia, accidentally locked the family’s cat inside his beer fridge late on a Saturday night.
“I had the whole family over and went out to the shed to get a few beers from the fridge,” Bill told the local Standard Newspaper. “I didn’t think that much of it until the next morning when we couldn’t find the cat.”
Bill’s daughter, 13 year old Melanie, was apparently beside herself with worry. The whole Nelson family conducted an extensive search for Maisy on Sunday morning, even looking inside the shed, but they still could not find Maisy.
It finally dawned on Bill to open his beer fridge to check to see if Maisy was there.
And indeed she was! Maisy was calmly sitting inside Bill’s beer fridge on the bottom shelf, apparently not impressed with being locked in the beer fridge for
so long. However, Maisy is a lucky cat:
“It might have been a week before I opened the fridge again,” said Bill.
Photo Credit: ftzdomino
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan