Bittering Agents Saving The Lives of Cats?

The bosses of Halfords, in the United Kingdom, deserve a pat of the back for voluntarily deciding to add a bittering agent (sometimes called a “bitterant”) to their antifreeze. They also add a bitterant called “Bitrex”® to their screen wash. It is probably the same chemical that is added to their antifreeze. Although Halford’s products contain a bittering agent, they sell products from other manufacturers that don’t.

Antifreeze with bittering agent
Antifreeze with bittering agent

In the UK, as far as I am aware, there is neither a legal requirement to add a bittering agent to antifreeze, nor to use propylene glycol, which is much safer than ethylene glycol, the commonly used but highly toxic chemical. I have to ask, Why? A defective government, probably.

See also: (a) making antifreeze unpalatable and (b) saving a cat who has ingested antifreeze.

In the USA, there were attempts to create a legal requirement to add a bitterant. However, a bill, the Antifreeze Bittering Act of 2009, died a death at the committee stage. To me, it seems extraordinary that such a simple and useful piece of legislation cannot become law. Bitterant also save the lives of kids as well as cats and wildlife.

The objective of the Antifreeze Bittering Act of 2009 was:

To amend the Federal Hazardous Substances Act to require engine coolant and antifreeze to contain a bittering agent so as to render it unpalatable….

Thankfully and wisely, the manufacturers voluntarily decided to add bitterant to all antifreeze and engine coolant. This puts the USA ahead of the UK in this regard. In the UK, there are still many cases of the deliberate poisoning of cats by people putting food down laced with antifreeze. It is time for all manufacturers in the UK to follow the US example.

Those are the “facts” as I have researched them. There are probably other manufacturers who have been equally responsible. If a visitor knows of a manufacturer, please comment.

What I am yet to discover is how effective a bittering agent is to stop cats licking up antifreeze. Will a cat be able to smell the bittering agent when the antifreeze is mixed with food as is often the case in malicious poisonings? I suspect a cat will pick up the smell because they have an excellent sense of smell, which well beyond the capabilities of humans.

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Life is Improving for the Domestic Cat

This flow chart explains why I say life is getting better for the domestic cat:

Life is Improving for the Domestic Cat
Life is Improving for the Domestic Cat

The information comes from the AVMA 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook. This obviously applies to the USA. However it could equally well apply to the UK.

The specific numbers (USA) are as follows:

  1. Among divorced, widowed and separated adults pet ownership grew by 17.7%, from 51.3% to 60.4%.
  2. The percentage of single men living alone with pets increased by 27.7%. From 34.3% to 43.8%.
  3. The percentage of single women living alone with pets increased by 22%. From 46.8% to 57.1%.

As family breakdown increases the quality of life for the domestic cat should increase because there are more single people who can give more quality time to their cat companion and who relate to their cat as a true partner.

It appears that the concept of marriage is failing in Western society. I appears to be incompatible with the human psyche. The relationship between man and woman is less stable than the relationship between man and cat or woman and cat.

Society in the UK is also becoming more secular. Religion is dying. This is possibly linked to the failure of marriage.

It is nice to see that the percentage of men building relationships with cats is on the increase. It is a substantial increase too. This is important. The figures fly in the face of the conventional notion of single women finding solace in their cat companion. Far from it. A cat is a good friend to either sex of homo sapiens.

“It’s interesting to see that more and more single people are discovering the comfort and satisfaction that owning a pet can offer,” (Douglas Aspros, DVM, president of the AVMA)

Where is this going to lead us? About half of all first and second marriages end up in divorce in the USA. In the UK there are more single people than married couples. If this trend continues the population of dogs and cats will increase but, in general, they should have a better quality of life than previously.

The status of the companion animal will climb as the pet becomes more important in society. This should lead to even better animal welfare laws and norms.

Associated page: Fighting over the cat in divorce.

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The RSPCA Can’t Help A Fox (and me)

RSPCA can't help me
Photo by zorilla

The RSPCA – The Royal Society for the Protection of Animals – have been concerned with animal welfare since 1824. They are known throughout the world. For some idiotic and naive reason, I believed that they would come and help a severely injured wild animal if I phoned and asked for assistance. I believed that a major (or minor?) part of their work was to capture or recover sick animals and either treat them in one of their hospitals or put them sleep. The image I had was of a man in a blue suit and a van coming around and helping.

This is positively not the case. I have a fox who I feed because he is starving. He is starving because he can barely walk, never mind run or climb fences etc. His right fore-foot is very severely damaged and swollen. That leg is useless. His left fore-foot is also damaged but he has to use it. He hops along with great difficulty. He appears to be blind in his right eye, which appears to have been hit as it is very flat, probably punctured. He spends some nights in a covered cat litter tray outside my backdoor. I can touch him because he is so depressed he doesn’t care anymore.

Dying fox in pain
Dying fox in pain

As I find it very distressing to see this suffering. I have to do something. I want him to be humanely put put to sleep (PTS) for his sake. Or at least checked out and a decision made. Personally, I see little chance of recovery.

Am I doing this because I can’t stand watching him in pain?

Some more pictures:

Injured fox
Injured fox

I had planned to call my vet but decided to call the RSPCA instead. The receptionist, a man, was not that great, to be honest. I sensed he was irritated. Not good. Always use a middle-aged female for reception with a gentle character, please. Anyway, he said I might qualify for a fox trap and they would call me back.

While I was out they called back and left a voice mail. The lady said she couldn’t do anything as the injuries were too slight! I had to wait until the fox did not move at all when I approached him. In other words he had to be in the actual state of dying before they would come out and collect the fox to euthanise him.

I found this very disappointing and, frankly, almost pointless. Naively, I thought they helped injured animals to alleviate suffering. But no, it appears not. Have I got this wrong?

When you read their website you can see that they appear to have repositioned their objectives. They are now a political lobbying group. Essentially, they are a political organisation. There is nothing on their site that tells us that they help specific or individual animals in need.

This is not the first time I have been rebutted by the RSPCA. I called them years ago about an injured duck and nothing happened. We have an RSPCA hospital about a mile from where I live: Putney Animal Hospital. This is a well known animal hospital. Clearly that made no difference.

The reason is probably a question of funding. Perhaps donations have dried up because of the financial mess the country is in.

As a society we don’t care enough about animals. I have phoned my vet’s clinic, who are great, and they can’t help either. Do we just let wild animals die in pain even if we know about it? The answer is; yes. Should we care? Why do I care?

Has anyone had any experiences with the RSPCA?

Associated post: RSPCA Stole My Cats

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Library Cats and Book Shop Cats

Books and cats go together like fish and chips. Yet some people object to cats that have set up home in buildings used by the public. In this instance I’m referring to book shops and libraries but it could also be veterinarian clinics and even hospices or theatres. Taking your cat to work is another way that you’ll see cats in places other than a home.


Personally, and I am bound to say this, there is no doubt in my mind that cats add to a library and book shop. Their presence probably helps to sell books but I would doubt that they are there for that purposes. They make a library and book shop more homely and comfortable. The cat makes a library like a home and gives it a bit of soul, bringing joy to the vast majority of people.

Then along comes someone who complains about the cat. You are almost bound to get this nowadays. Perhaps it is a modern phenomenon; an over emphasis on health and safety in public places.

In this instance I am referring to a Mr Higgins who has complained about Penny, a tabby cat, who has been at the Swansea library for 14 years with not a single complaint – only praise, I expect. This, by the way, is Swansea, USA and not Wales, UK.

Mr Higgins appears to have complained about cat allergies. Perhaps he is allergic to cats. However, most libraries are large places with plenty of options to put a bit space between you and the cat if you are allergic.

Mr Higgins also complained about a fence that is blocking a wheelchair entrance. Perhaps the fence is there to stop Penny going into a certain area. He said the fence was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and planned to sue the library until the backlash arrived from the public!

Overwhelmingly, the public supports Penny and the library. The kind of comment we are seeing on the internet is along these lines:

It’s amazing to me that in 14 years time…..the only thing that Penny has done is bring joy to the people of Swansea and made a trip to the library an enjoyable one. I am pretty sure that there have been many others that have allergies that visit the library…and they survived. Perhaps Higgins should invest in a kindle and leave a treasured piece of Swansea alone…..(Shana Provost)

That is a smart comment, the general tenor of which is supported by many others, namely: Mr Higgins, it is you who has to go, not Penny!

I love that sort of outcome. The story is not over. Mr Higgins will withdraw his complaint if a sign is put up about cat allergies and provided Penny is not replaced when she dies.

The library directors are meeting to discuss a response to Mr Higgins. What is it going to be? Ban Higgins, maybe?

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Beware Craigslist Kitten Scam

Submission from Susan


Hello – last night I posted an ad on craigslist about finding a new kitten and was ALMOST scammed. There is someone who claims to have a kitten and if you send them $100. they will send you the cat, even after you tell them you live in another state. They also are using one of your Maine Coon photos to lure people in. I just thought you should know.

I have a complaint in to craigslist and waiting to hear from them. I do have the original emails if you would like that as I’m sure they are violating copyright.

I feel stupid but I’m glad I saw the google images of the cat on the black paw prints on the wicker chair? That’s the one that’s being used, at least on me ~ your photos are amazing and it makes me sick to think someone is lying to get someone to send them money.

Response from Michael

Thanks a lot for telling me about this. I would like you to leave a comment and provide some more information such as the emails.

I have to ask you to do this as I don’t have your email address. I thought Craigslist had stopped this sort of thing happening. Apparently not.

If you could show me the picture you are referring to that would be great too.

I have published your submission as a warning to others.

Never send money up front to someone you don’t know on the internet.

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Cat Claws are a Veterinarian’s Resource

Cat claws a vets resource
Note: This is deliberately written from a purely financial point of view, which appears to be the vet’s point of view

If the vets are declawing cats because it makes money and we can’t change their minds by referring to ethics, we are left with arguing that it could be more profitable to leave a cat’s claws alone and then provide an alternative service that deals with people’s dislike or uncertainty about a cat’s claws. That is why this short post takes that cold, commercial approach…..

Veterinarians could make more money from servicing and dealing with cat’s claws than they do from removing them in a highly controversial, and for me, unpleasant, operation. A vet charges about $100 for each standard front declaw, while follow up checks and repair treatment from complications probably adds another $50, on average.

Once a vet has removed a cat’s claws he has lost an asset around which he can make money. Vets like to make money out of bits of a cat’s anatomy. Therefore leave the asset alone and use it for profitable purposes.

Let’s think about it. Declawing is a one-off use of a asset that can make money for the vet. Leaving the claws intact allows the vet to make money from them for the remainder of the cat’s life. It has to be more profitable for the vet in the long run.

Here are some suggestions on how a vet can make money from claws that exist as oppose to removing them. I am thinking aloud. It is a form of brainstorming. Some might work, some might be stupid.  I don’t care, as long as vets stop hurting cats.

Trimming Claws Can Lead To Lots More

A lot of people don’t like to trim their cat’s claws. A vet could provide a service. The trimming could be carried out by a vet tech and be part of an overall, cat checkup that included basic medical checks such as oral health check (check for teeth and gum health), ear check (check for ear mites), skin check (check for anything that might irritate a cat), eyes and coat. The vet tech could also groom the cat. This would be a maintenance service in the same way we service cars. A lot of people maintain their cars with more commitment than their cats.

It would have to be cheap – let’s say $50 or less.The service could be provided at the home of the cat’s owner. Give the vet tech a van and send her on her way to service the cats of the community with the objective of bringing in business for the vets.

The check up and trim could be a means to make money in other areas. A vet tech could find something that needs doing and charge a vet’s rate for that much needed procedure. I don’t care if it is made up, as long as the vet stops declawing.

Selling Products

What about a DVD on how to deal with a cat’s claws or a seminar of some sort? A typical vet’s surgery is made up of a reception area, consulting rooms and facilities at the rear for surgery and storage etc. What about a room where clients could be trained?  Vets are animal experts. Why can’t they educate people who need educating on animal caretaking? This would be chargeable and would also provide a handle for selling products.

Isn’t one of the duties of a vet to educate the public and encourage them to be more concerned for cat welfare? I realise that some vets want people to be lousy cat owners as it leads to sick cats but this is short-sighted thinking. Proactive business strategies are much more durable and profitable in the long run.

Other cat claw products are:

It is time vets to show some imagination and decency. It cannot be beyond the bounds of their imagination and business acumen (what acument?) to work something out that makes a profit in a sustainable way from a cat’s claws.

Do you have any ideas on how a vet can make money from a cat’s claws in a sustainable way?

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Vets Make Billions From Declawing Cats

Financial value of cat declawing usa
Financial value of cat declawing usa

Veterinarians in the USA make at least $2.16 billion ($2,160,000,000) in total from cat declawing.

See Declawing Myths and Truths

It is important to recognise that declawing cats is big business. It is a important part of a veterinarian’s operation. It is the bread and butter of his work just like vaccinations, annual check ups, dental cleaning and so on. At a national level how much is it worth?

It is difficult to get a decent figure on the number of cats that are declawed in the USA. However, Wikipedia says:

It is estimated that 25% of owned cats in the United States are declawed (Patronek 2001)

This is about the only information we have. Fortunately, Patronek is a vet himself and a scientist. He has been involved in lots of studies on declawing. Accordingly, the estimate of 25% should be fairly accurate.


  1. Number of owned (domestic) cats Humane Society. This figure is climbing. More cats to mutilate!
  2. Cost to declaw –  see page.
  3. Cats declawed is one quarter of total number of domestic cats per Patronek DVM.
  4. Number of vets is universally agreed. As the number of vets who don’t declaw is insignificant compared to the total, I have made no deduction to the number.
  5. After care. Lots of cats need aftercare because of complications. This must be big business too, but it is unquantified.

The business end of cat declawing is a major reason why it exists. It is the foundation upon which it exists. For declawing to actually happen vets have to play their part. They are the key players in this macabre habit. If they all declined to stop declawing tomorrow it would entirely stop overnight. It is in their hands. I realise they will never give it up because it is their bread and butter. It puts dinner on their plate.  It is irrelevant to them that it breaches their oath and is considered a criminal act over most of Europe and Israel.

For cat owners to stop requesting declawing will take decades for a culture shift to take place.

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CatNav: Track Your Cat

Photo by kevin dooley

What do you think about this new device, which is yet to hit shop shelves; the CatNav? It is for indoor/outdoor cats or perhaps cats living in a very large house! I suggest below how it may help to protect cats from abuse.

It is a variation on the CatCam, the video camera attached to a cat’s collar. The CatNav, as you have probably guessed, tracks your cat’s movements using GPS (Global Positioning System), just like the device in your car, that tells how to get to a preset destination.

The ultra-light weight device he invented is worn as a cat collar. The device tracks the cat’s movements. On returning home the CatNav is removed from the cat and plugged into the USB socket of a computer. The information gathered can then be mapped using Google Maps. It will cost about £50.

The information that the CatNav collects on your cat’s travels would probably look somewhat like this when downloaded to Google Maps (this is illustrative and not an actual example).

View CatNav Example Route in a larger map

The product was invented by a Brit, David Evans. Brits are very inventive. His cat “Yollo” routinely goes a-wandering and returns well fed.  This reminds me of some cats I know.

David wanted to know what his Yollo was up to and, perhaps, find out who was feeding him – maybe he wants to reimburse the person for the cost of cat food!

My Conclusions

Any Use?

This is a clever idea but…I am not sure that it will tell you much more than you can already guess at. If your cat goes out and roams, you’ll be able to guess that it will be for up to about 2 miles and he’ll probably have to cross a road or roads, depending on where you are, and he’ll probably jump over or through garden fences and walls to wander around someone else’s garden because cats don’t recognise the concept of boundaries and property rights etc.

You may be able to discover who is feeding your cat other than you. However, do you really want to meet that person? Perhaps he or she is fed up with you and you don’t even know it ;).

Protecting the Cat

The information may help to protect your cat. If a neighbour wanted to harm your cat, let’s say by poisoning him using antifreeze, it may be possible to discover where the person lives. If, for example, five cats in one area wore the device and the owners kept records of their movement you could the compare the maps. If one was poisoned there may be a convergence where the poisoned food was put down and that poison might be on or near the property of the poisoner.

I would place a little note on the collar saying:

“This cat’s movements have been tracked”.

That is likely to be a barrier to a person who wishes to harm the cat. It is also useful to put a phone number on the collar for common sense reasons.

Of course, if a nasty person gets close enough to the cat he could remove the device. However, the notice is written in the past tense so the person would then know that he has already been identified.

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