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Anti-freeze poisoning in cats

Did anyone see Supervet on Channel Four this week? I can’t say that we watch it every week – we’re usually too busy after work seeing to the menagerie down on the farm. However, we did get to watch it this week. We’re always amazed at some of the operations Noel Fitzpatrick does in his state of the art veterinary practice but in this week’s episode, it was one of the nurse’s cats that was sick. 

The lovely little cat was rushed in because it was fitting and tremoring and sadly it turned out she had ethylene glycol (or anti-freeze) poisoning. Drinking anti-freeze is usually fatal in cats as it causes irreparable kidney damage unless you act very very quickly. It may seem odd but the anti-dote for anti-freeze poisoning is alcohol and so the team at Fitzpatricks administered neat vodka through the cat’s drip and miraculously five days later she’d made a fantastic recovery. Most cat’s are presented to the vets too late and the toxin has done it’s irreversible damage. 

How does a cat come to get anti-freeze poisoning? A leaking car radiator slowing dripping anti-freeze into a puddle from which the cat drinks is one way. Some people put anti-freeze in their garden water features over winter to stop them from freezing and as we all know, cat’s like to drink from these places. Sadly, some times there’s a malicious cause as people purposely poison ‘nuisance’ neighbourhood cats. Often you’ll see stories in the newspaper where several cats from the same area have been poisoned – a few weeks ago we had one such story in our local paper, the Stoke Sentinel. 

What can you do to prevent anti-freeze poisoning in cats? Our vets have put together our top five tips:
1.    Keep any bottles of anti-freeze out of the reach of your cats – in a locked cupboard in the garage for example. 
2.    Check your cars regularly for any unexpected leaks
3.    Clean up any anti-freeze spills immediately 
4.    Don’t put anti-freeze in your garden water features
5.    Contact the RSPCA if you suspect someone is poisoning cats in your area – follow this link to their own page on anti-freeze poisoning of cats. 

We’ve not had too many cold day’s this winter so far – it’s not stopped raining for the last few weeks here. But let’s hope when winter finally makes it’s appearance, we don’t get too many cases of anti-freezing poisoning.


Rosemarie Thomas

Rosemarie Thomas07/12/2015

I lost one of my cats to anti-freeze poisoning. She disappeared for a few days, I believe she had accidently been locked into someone's garage. By the time she returned home there was very little the local vetinerary could do to repair her little damaged body, it had simply been too long. My plea is that people take care even if they do not have cats theirselves and do not leave antifreeze out anywear - even in their own garage. Thank you Chris for raising awareness of this all too often fatal poison which lurks in so many people's homes. Rosemarie