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Use Antifreeze Responsibly to Avoid Unneccesary Cat Deaths

24 November 2014

ANALYSIS - Following a dip in temperatures, many drivers are resorting to antifreeze to combat icy windscreens this winter, writes Gemma Hyland.

However drivers are being urged to be vigilant when using antifreeze and take precautions to avoid cats being exposed to it.

Whether you are a cat owner or not, it is important to store and use antifreeze responsibly, as 90 per cent of cats that swallow antifreeze will die as a result.

Earlier this year there were campaigns from Yorkshire Cat Rescue calling on antifreeze manufacturers to add bitter ingredients to deter cats from drinking it.

“It would be so simple for manufacturers to prevent these unnecessary deaths by adding a ‘bitterant’ to their product,” said Sara Atkinson, the charity's founder.

“Cats are attracted to the sweet taste of antifreeze which, even when ingested in small doses, is very likely to prove fatal.”

Worse still, many of these are poisoned on purpose, she added.

cat outsideSpotting the signs

Craig Harrison, Clinical Director at White Cross Vets explains: “We see too many poisoned pets across our practices every year who are in distress after swallowing antifreeze either as a terrible accident or a malicious act of cruelty.

“Ethylene Glycol is highly toxic and because of its sweet taste it is especially appealing to pets but just one teaspoon is enough to kill a cat and a tablespoon will kill a dog.

"If an accidental spill occurs and a pet either drinks or walks through the antifreeze and then licks their paws it can kill them.

"We have also seen cases where pets have been intentionally poisoned with food that has been soaked in antifreeze.

"However, these cases could be prevented if antifreeze wasn’t sweet tasting and included bittering agents.”

If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned with this substance, it’s essential they see a vet straight away.

Early treatment can often be effective but many pets that are left untreated unfortunately have to be put to sleep or die of kidney failure within days.

If you’re concerned that your cat might be suffering from antifreeze poisoning then it’s vital you seek urgent veterinary advice - swift treatment for Ethylene Glycol poisoning saves lives.

Symptoms may include:

- Up to 12 hours after ingestion: Cat is vomiting, appearing ‘drunk’, wobbly, may be more ‘vocal’.

- 12-24 Hours after ingestion: Cat is exhibiting further depression, increased heart rate, usually at this point the kidneys begin to struggle to cope.

- After 24 hours: You may notice your cat drinking more, lethargy, vomiting and a painful abdomen. Acute renal failure is likely and unfortunately the prognosis at this point is very poor.

Gemma Hyland, Editor

Gemma Hyland, Editor

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