Refrigerator Incident Leaves Curious Cat in Stitches

Nation’s Largest Pet Insurer Selects May’s Most Unusual Claim

Brea, Calif. (June 21, 2013) – On the first day of a weeklong vacation, Kayla Hildebrandt and her fiancé, Matt Zeigler, of Irvine, Calif., received the news that no pet owner wants to hear: their Siamese cat, Pippa, had been rushed to the emergency animal hospital. They were informed that Pippa was having trouble breathing after becoming wedged behind the refrigerator in their apartment. Luckily, Kayla and Matt’s pet sitter arrived in time to save the fortunate feline’s life. After surviving the scary incident and receiving several stitches in the process, Pippa earned the title of May’s “Most Unusual Claim of the Month” by Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI).

“We suspect Pippa was climbing on top of the refrigerator and fell off the back of it,” explained Kayla. “She was pinned against the wall and the metal backing of the fridge. Since there was no room to squeeze out from either side, Pippa panicked and tried to get out by going through the back casing of the fridge.”

During the ordeal, Pippa got her leg and foot caught up in the electrical wires, cutting off her circulation. Pippa also received lacerations to her back while trying to squeeze through the metal portion of the refrigerator.

"Our pet sitter, Rachel, walked in our apartment to check on Pippa and heard faint cries and meows for help,” said Kayla. “She realized Pippa was behind the refrigerator and it took all of her energy to move the fridge out from the wall to unveil the horrific scene. Pippa was found barely breathing and wounded in many areas of her body."

Despite moving the refrigerator, Rachel still couldn’t pull Pippa out from the back casing of the refrigerator so she ran to get help. Minutes later, the apartment complex’s maintenance crew arrived and cut the metal in the back of the refrigerator open to finally release the worn-out and injured feline. Rachel then rushed Pippa to the emergency animal hospital for treatment.

“The emergency veterinarian called us and we were told Pippa was in pretty bad shape,” explained Kayla. “She received stitches for severe lacerations to both her foot and back. Fortunately, she received necessary treatment from the attending veterinarian and made a full recovery. We’re thankful to everyone who acted quickly and didn’t waste any time before getting her to the emergency animal hospital.”

“Cats are curious by nature and can wind up in a variety of potentially dangerous places,” said Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “To avoid incidents like Pippa’s, it’s important for pet owners to pet-proof their home to ensure their dog or cat is unable to access hazardous areas of the house.”

Although Kayla and Matt weren’t able to have as relaxing of a vacation as they would have hoped following Pippa’s petrifying incident, they were relieved that their apartment complex management replaced the refrigerator free of charge. In addition, Kayla and Matt were very thankful to receive a reimbursement for 99 percent of the claimed amount from VPI Pet Insurance.

“Pet insurance is great for unexpected situations like this,” said Kayla. “Without pet insurance Pippa’s mishap would have been much more expensive.”

Pippa’s incident was one of more than 80,000 claims received in the month of May by VPI, the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, and was selected by VPI employees as the most unusual of the bunch. Honorable mentions in May included a dachshund that was bitten by a copperhead snake, a pug that managed to get a corn kernel stuck up her nose, and a mixed breed that ran full-speed into a cactus. All pets considered for the award made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

As the most unusual claim submitted in May, Pippa will be in the running for the 2013 VPI Hambone Award. Other nominees include Natasha the Siberian Forest cat who went through an entire washing machine cycle, Ariel the Himalayan kitten who was trapped underneath her pet parent’s garage door, and McQuire the mixed breed that survived a brawl with a buck. For more information about the VPI Hambone Award, or to read about all of the 2013 nominees, visit

Digital images of Pippa are available upon request. Send requests to

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. This quirky title was first awarded in 2009 to Lulu, a hungry 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 educate the public about the unexpected mishaps that can affect household pets. Stories and pictures of the VPI Hambone Award nominees are available at

About Veterinary Pet Insurance

With more than 485,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI) is a member of the Nationwide Insurance family of companies and is the oldest and largest pet health insurance company in the United States. Since 1982, VPI has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.

VPI Pet Insurance plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. CareGuard® coverage for routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Additionally, one in three Fortune 500 companies offers VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit. Policies are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2012); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2012). Pet owners can find VPI Pet Insurance on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI Pet Insurance, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit

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