NEWS AND VIEWS: BIRKDALE, UK: A cat owner has lost four of her cats at a stroke to deliberate poisoning by antifreeze. It is also believed that the cats were poisoned in their back garden after food was thrown into it.
Arwen Davies, 45, of Birkdale, is, of course, devastated and she’s convinced they were poisoned deliberately. Veterinarians have confirmed that all four died as a result of ingesting ethylene glycol which is used in antifreeze for vehicle coolant. It fatally damages a cat’s kidneys. They die quite quickly. It is agonising for the owner because their cat comes home and lies down and gradually fades away. Comment: manufacturers of this product can make antifreeze bitter and unpleasant for cats but they don’t bother to do it. Cats can taste bitterness.
Of course, the owner rushes their cat to a veterinarian but often there’s nothing that can be done except the final humane treatment: euthanasia.
In this story, four of Arwen’s cats died over a four-week period, all with the same symptoms. By the time she got them to the veterinarian it was game over and they had to be put to sleep. She said, “It’s my belief that somebody’s thrown something over my fence.”
Arwen Davies has lived in her home for about a year. I’m going to guess what happened. One of her neighbours – and I’m convinced that it is one of her fairly close neighbours – doesn’t like cats. It has taken that person about a year to decide to poison them. It would not be improbable to surmise that the person who did this (if she is correct, by the way) lives no more than two or three houses to the left or right of her. I would knock on some doors.
And, there is a strong argument that cat owners who let their cats go outside should install security cameras around their home with the appropriate signage. This would deter this kind of activity. I’m a great believer in security cameras as a deterrent. The new Ring doorbells are, I think, very useful in this regard.
If several houses in a row of semi-detached or terraced houses have Ring doorbells they create a wide arc of surveillance. In case you are unsure what I’m talking about, Ring doorbells contain a surveillance camera with monitors the forecourt of a home. And they connect to a smartphone wirelessly so they are very convenient.
To this doorbell you can add a backgarden CCTV system which also connects to a smartphone wirelessly. The combination provides comprehensive surveillance. Ideally all homes should have the same installation. This poisoning would not have happened if that was the case. It is the only way to get hard evidence. This deters criminals.
In the UK there are two great hazards for indoor/outdoor cats: Road traffic and poisoning by criminally-minded individuals who hate cats. In the USA you can add predators such as the coyote. Security cameras can help to deal with the criminals. As to road traffic, cats should be kept indoors if the cat owner lives near a busy road. And if cats are kept indoors, ideally, the owner should build a catio or an enclosure in the backyard.