Winter can be deadly for indoor/outdoor pets; a sad reality that struck recently. A stray feral cat that began coming around last October, whom I christened Mr. Boo, died this past Saturday. Mr. Boo didn’t let me near him, but he seemed to understand that I was the nice lady who fed him every day since I first laid eyes on him. I’d even gone so far as to buy him a plush cat bed and blanket that I put inside a weather-proof plastic storage container for him. As the life of a stray cat goes, his was pretty good. He had a warm bed, and fresh food and water daily on my patio. On the morning of January 19th, I happened to look out on my patio and saw his tail. I was surprised since he only came around at night. I investigated further, tapping the glass to get his attention, and then when he didn’t run as he usually would, I slid open the patio door and went out. He still hadn’t moved. He was lying on side, eyes open, dead. After a good cry, I called our local Animal Control to come and get him. It was speculated that he’d fallen ill to a common problem for cats who wander around apartment complexes; antifreeze poisoning.
Everyone winterizes their vehicles in winter and most do it themselves so when they replace their antifreeze it can spill out onto the concrete beneath. Antifreeze is odorless and mostly tasteless, and many have a sweet taste to them. Cats and dogs can mistake antifreeze for water or might drink it if no water is available. In the case of cats, it’s more likely they will accidentally walk through it and once it’s on their paws, will lick it off in an attempt to clean themselves. Antifreeze is three time more toxic for cats than dogs and is often fatal if not caught within the first three hours of ingestion.
Signs your cat has antifreeze poisoning: Your cat may behave as if tipsy or drunk in the first 6-12 hours following ingesting antifreeze. The main agent, ethylene glycol, is equivalent to 80-90 proof grain alcohol on a human, but unlike humans, cats cannot properly metabolize EG and it destroys their kidneys. What the cat generally will die from is kidney failure. This can happen within 48-72 hours according to some sites, and longer if the amount consumed was not a lot to begin with. Either way, ingesting this substance will cause severe kidney damage in small amounts and fatality is larger quantities. Symptoms of advanced poisoning/kidney failure are seeming depression, ceasing to eat, vomiting, tucking their stomach up/tenderness in the belly region, and frequent thirst and urination.
How much must your pet consume to be lethal?: “A dog must consume about one-half to one teaspoon of pure ethylene glycol per pound of body weight to be lethal. (4.4-6.6ml/Kg). It is about three times more toxic to cats and humans. (Ron Hines, DVM PhD)
Pet owners must be vigilant. A cat who is used to going outdoors runs a higher risk of early death due to many factors such as being run over, injured by a human, ingesting toxic substances, injury from other animals, and being left out in the elements without proper shelter, food and water. If you live in a home, first, try and keep kitty indoors as much as possible or permanently. If outdoors, be aware of substances used for vehicle maintenance and keep car ports clean. Brake fluid also contains EG. Even if you’re not a pet owner, show compassion for any other neighborhood pets by cleaning up chemical spills immediately. Cat litter is wonderful for absorbing these chemicals and affords an easy clean up to then dispose of them. If living in an apartment, be mindful of working on a vehicle in the parking lot and if you see any spills that are not your own, report them to your management office so they might clean them up before any pets or children accidentally come into contact with them.
Antifreeze poisoning is a sad and painful way for a pet to die. Even if the animal poisoned happens to be a stray, we should all be aware and do our part to try and prevent this from happening. Lesson most sadly learned by this condo dweller is – once a stray is spotted, immediately procure a humane trap and get that animal to the humane society quickly before any injury befalls it. Although a stray, Mr. Boo managed to get back to my patio, the only ‘home’ he ever knew, to pass away. May he rest in peace at the Rainbow Bridge.
Follow me on TWITTER!
M. Gwynn has authored two books, Harvest and The Cat Who Wanted to be a Reindeer on Amazon.com .
All articles by Michele Gwynn are under copyright and cannot be re-posted whole without written consent by the author. Partial re-posting with a link back to the original article is permitted. For consent, questions, or comments, email email@example.com.
Did you like this article? You can receive the next one directly into your email by clicking "SUBSCRIBE" at the top of the page.
Suggested by the author:
- Jackass star condemns animal cruelty on factory farms