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A factory in Japan is ramping up measures to avoid animals sneaking in after a cat fell in a toxic vat and went on the loose

A stock image of a ginger cat.
A cat in Fukuyama, Japan, fell into a chemical vat in a metal-plating factory before escaping into the city.Chris Winsor/Getty Images
  • A cat snuck into a factory in Fukuyama, Japan, and fell into a toxic-chemical vat before escaping.

  • The city alerted residents, and officials advised them not to pet any abnormal-looking cats.

  • The factory plans to enhance security measures to help prevent future animal intrusions.

Officials in Fukuyama, Japan, alerted the city after a cat snuck into a metal-plating factory and fell into a toxic vat before escaping.

The factory, Nomura Plating, plans to ramp up security measures to prevent animals from causing problems in the future.

On Monday morning, a tan-colored trail of paw prints was found leading away from an 11-foot-tall vat of metal-plating solution containing hexavalent chromium, Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported.

Breathing in the toxic chemical, also known as chromium 6, can lead to swelling of the lungs and airways, and touching it can cause ulcerations, the UK Health Security Agency says.

A factory spokesperson told Agence France-Press that "the incident woke us up to the need to take measures to prevent small animals like cats from sneaking in, which is something we had never anticipated before."

Asahi Shimbun reported that surveillance footage showed the cat leaving the factory on Sunday night.

The factory said part of a sheet over the vat looked to have been partially turned over, allowing the cat to fall in, the newspaper said.

The factory did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

A spokesperson told AFP that the factory immediately told police, city officials, and neighboring buildings about the escaped cat.

In turn, the city's environmental division warned residents of the potential health risks, urging them to keep their distance if they spotted the toxic cat.

Exposure to hexavalent chromium can lead to an increased risk of lung, nose, and sinus cancers, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says.

"If you find a cat that seems abnormal, please do not touch it and contact the city or police," the environmental division said, Asahi Shimbun reported.

City officials also provided guidance to elementary schools near the factory, advising children not to pet any cats that looked unwell, Japan's Nippon TV News reported.

As of Thursday, the cat's whereabouts were still unknown, though the city's environment division told AFP that it may have died from chemical exposure.

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