Don’t use antifreeze in garden water features

In the UK it appears that quite a lot of people add antifreeze to garden water features such as fountains. They do this in winter to stop the water freezing. It sounds like a good idea you might think but an estimated 50 cats a month in the UK are killed by drinking antifreeze from water features. It is as simple and as stark as that.

Is this water fountain safe for cats?
Is this water fountain safe for cats? Picture by Elliot Brown (modified)
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Most of us are familiar with people deliberately poisoning cats with anti-freeze by putting it down outside where they know cats are roaming but I would doubt that many are aware of the mortal danger it presents to cats when this attractive tasting chemical is put in fountains.

I was shocked at the numbers. We know too that in the UK many cat owners allow their cats to roam. Cats often enter other people’s gardens. Non-cat owners should be alert to the distinct possibility that they may inadvertently poison their neighbour’s cat. Regrettably that may not worry some people.

There could not be a better reason for making it obligatory to add a bitterant to antifreeze to make it unpalatable to cats but this government refuses to entertain the idea indicating they are a callous lot who care little for animal welfare.

6 thoughts on “Don’t use antifreeze in garden water features”

  1. As ecologically irresponsible as it is to use exposed antifreeze in any outdoor environment, someone explain to me how killing all the wildlife that might get into that antifreeze is any less toxic than killing all the wildlife with free-roaming cats. On the upside, things that die from antifreeze can only die if they go to where the antifreeze is. All life in the area will die from cats because cats seek-out and torture to death all life in any area. If only cats were as immobile as a puddle of antifreeze, then cats would only be equal in toxicity to the environment, too bad that they are not. Leaving any cat outside is even more toxic to all native wildlife and the environment than a puddle of antifreeze. Whether you want to face up to this fact or not.

    • Jim/Woody spraying antifreeze into bird baths is as atrocious as depositing it anywhere else for animals to consume.
      I know it’s hard for you to accept, but cats have just as much right to live freely as your precious birds.

  2. Good point about the water features Michael. I think people tend to associate anti-freeze poisoning with a deliberate act, rather than an accidental one.

    People also need to be careful with screen-wash products too as they also contain ethylene glycol.


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