Here is some information, from an excellent source¹, about doing the near impossible; saving a cat who has lapped up antifreeze. The reason why I am writing this post is because, once again, we have one of those horror stories about a cat hater poisoning cats in a certain area by mixing antifreeze with cat food and putting it down on the street for outdoor cats to eat. Antifreeze does not taste bad to a cat. In fact they lap it up without mixing it with food. Something cat be done but the best thing to do is keep your cat inside until the poisoner has been found but that may be impractical.
In this instance, a person living in or near Dovercourt, England (east coast in Suffolk) is responsible for the killings. Thirteen cats have died, and 35 died last year at the hands of what appears to be the same person. Police were given the names of three possible suspects but none were arrested. This is what I would expect. It is very difficult, in fairness to the police, to obtain hard evidence in this sort of crime. The suspect just denies involvement and that is that.
This is the component in antifreeze that kills cats. Note: if you have antifreeze in the garage, please be extremely careful with it. Make sure the container is properly closed and there are no spills. Buy antifreeze with propylene glycol as the primary component, as this is far less toxic to cats. All manufacturers should use this chemical. They don’t, indicating a lack of concern.
Signs of Toxicity
- The signs occur fast: within 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingesting it. They include:
- depression, vomiting, drunken walk, seizures, kidney damage and kidney failure days later. Death is the usual outcome.
- Important: if in doubt about symptoms, go to the vet immediately and don’t treat for anti-freeze poisoning.
Treatment by Cat Owner
This is a case where the cat owner can, sometimes, justifiably do something because of the need for fast action.
Even if you can get your cat to a vet in a reasonable time, try to induce vomiting in your cat. That is the advice. If you can get to your veterinarian within minutes, just take her.
So, for the cat’s owner, the treatment has two possible strands to it:
- Make your cat vomit, then take your cat to the vet.
- Administer activated charcoal if there is a delay in getting your cat to the vet.
How to Induce Vomiting in a Cat
Ideally, you’ll have an emergency medical kit. That is, you’ll need some preparatory work. In truth this is unlikely to have happened but if you read this you might prepare a first aid kit that contains hydrogen peroxide.
It is recommended that you give a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide to your cat. 3% is 3 parts per 100. You can buy it at 3% solution. The instructions are to give your cat 1 teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide for every 10 pounds of the cat’s weight. The average cat weighs from 6 to 16 pounds. That makes one teaspoon for the average cat to a max. of 3 teaspoonfuls. The dose can be repeated after 10 mins if necessary to a max of 3x.
I would expect a poisoned cat to be fairly compliant so administering it shouldn’t be a big problem.
If he vomits and the stomach is cleared and it is still difficult to get to a vet quickly, activated charcoal can be given. The best way to administer it is to give a 5 gram compressed charcoal pill with a pill gun. These pill administrators are very cheap and you can get one from your vet.
When going to the vet the advice is to take some vomit if your cat has vomited or the poison. The vet can take it from there.
- Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook pages 29-31.