Update 3rd July 2013 – Georgina since got two new kittens. Unfortunately, one of her young cats has today been taken ill and vets suspect antifreeze poisoning again. RIP kitty.
Reader Lyndsey Michaels contacted us to ask if we could publicise the dangers that antifreeze poses to cats, after her friend lost her cats to antifreeze poisoning on Sunday.
Bertie and Winnie
Georgina Field lives with her partner Dan on Bristol Rd South, Northfield, close to the Black Horse pub. Her two cats became seriously ill suddenly on Sunday and, within a matter of hours, had to be put down by a vet. The vet diagnosed antifreeze poisoning.
Lyndsey said: “My best friend had to have both of her beloved cats put to sleep. Bertie and Winnie were just two years old. Brother and sister, they were inseparable and rarely left each other’s side.
“The vet said that the cats had been poisoned by antifreeze, most likely from a neighbour’s garden water feature, or a spillage as someone prepared their car for the winter.” she added.
George has not yet discovered the source of the poisoning so, if you’re a cat owner in the area, please be aware of the danger and look out for symptoms in your pets. Even a small amount of antifreeze ingested by a cat can cause acute renal failure and the animal can become very ill extremely quickly.
Lyndsey told us that: “Unless they receive immediate veterinary treatment – within 30 mins to an hour – most cats will not be able to be saved. Even with immediate treatment, many cats will not survive.”
Judith Haw from Wales and West RSPCA said: “Sadly antifreeze is highly toxic to cats and they only need to ingest a tiny amount for it to be fatal. It causes kidney failure in cats and once they show any symptoms of becoming unwell they go down very quickly and very often there is nothing the vet can do at this stage. Tragically antifreeze has a sweet taste which cats like.”
The RSPCA and Feline Advisory Bureau have this advice:
“There are times, no matter how careful you are, when accidents can still happen. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with antifreeze, leaked water coolant or if they show any of the following signs get them to a vet immediately:
- Seeming depressed or sleepy
- Appearing drunk and uncoordinated
- Seizures (fits)
- Difficulty breathing
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
Signs of antifreeze poisoning can start to show as soon as 30 minutes after ingestion, though it can be two or three days before signs of kidney failure are seen. The sooner your pet receives veterinary treatment, the better their chances of survival. If left untreated, antifreeze poisoning can cause animals pain, suffering and distress, and will lead to the death of your pet.”
Malicious or accidental
There have been numerous cases of cats being killed by antifreeze poisoning throughout the country this year, whether intentionally or accidentally. From Wales, to Essex, Lincoln to Grimsby.
Storing and using antifreeze
Antifreeze is sweet tasting and cats actually love the taste, which makes having antifreeze around and not properly secured even more dangerous.
Judith Haw, RSPCA said: “The message to the public is to please store antifreeze safely and securely out of reach and if spilled to ensure it is cleaned up as matter of urgency.”
Further advice from the RSPCA: “Left over antifreeze and water coolant should also be disposed of responsibly. The safest way is to take it in a suitable container to a council refuse site which should have facilities for disposing of hazardous fluids.”
Never use antifreeze to maintain a garden water feature through the winter.
There have been reports all around the UK of people deliberately spiking food with antifreeze and other poisons to kill or injure cats and other animals. The poisoning of a cat can constitute a criminal offence. Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 the maximum penalty for anyone found guilty of this offence is up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a fine of £20,000.
Judith Haw, RSPCA, said: “If anyone suspects that antifreeze is being used to poison cats on purpose then they should contact us and tell us what they know so we can investigate.”
The RSPCA informed us that: “Comma Oil, which supplies antifreeze to companies including Halfords, has added an ingredient to make it unpleasant to animals to swallow the product. However, there is currently no legislation to make such additives a requirement.”
A petition, supported by the RSPCA and the Feline Advisory Bureau aims to prevent antifreeze from being sold in the UK without clear labelling and the addition of bittering agents which would make it unappealing to cats and other animals.
If you need help, advice or want to report suspected bad storage, leakage or use in a water feature, contact the RSPCA at Barnes Hill on 0300 123 0710
If you suspect that someone is using antifreeze with malicious intent to poison animals, contact the RSPCA Cruelty Line on 0300 1234 999
If you think you know the source of the Northfield poisonings, please call the RSPCA on 0300 123 0710 and contact B31 Voices to let us know.
Many thanks to Georgina, Lyndsey and the RSPCA for their help.