Photo by eskimo_jo (Flickr)
Making antifreeze unpalatable to cats would save many thousands of cat's lives and prevent hundreds of crimes. News on the subject of cats contain on at least a weekly basis one incident of antifreeze poisoning.
These poisoning are either accidental or deliberate and they most often kill the cat, period. It is the most common cause of poisoning of cats and dogs in the USA (source).
It is the major component of car antifreeze, ethylene glycol, that kills cats. A small sip is enough. The chemical is used in engine coolant and other products such as brake fluids and hydraulic fluids.
The problem is simple. Cats like the taste of antifreeze. And it is being left lying around or it leaks out of cars. Or as mentioned, it is put down deliberately judging by the comments on my blogger site (see Cat Poison).
Ethylene glycol is rapidly absorbed by the cat and within 30 minutes the cat shows signs of poisoning (as if drunk). There is a period of what seems like remission but it is not. The cat converts the ethylene glycol into other chemicals that damage its body (kidneys and central nervous system) permanently.
Other symptoms are:
Symptoms are similar to a cat with kidney disease a not uncommon disease in modern cats (due to dry cat food it is claimed).
Treatment should be rapid and includes:
--Making the cat drunk (alcohol apparently reduces the effects)
--Flushing the chemical from the stomach
--Flushing the chemical from the cat's body by inducing increased urination
OK enough....The point I want to make is that all this would be unnecessary if the manufacturers of antifreeze and other car products made it unpalatable by adding a small amount of another chemical that made the taste bitter. The chemical that has been used successfully is Denatonium Benzoate (DB). Sounds simple to me. But is it simple to get the manufacturers to do it? No - afraid not.
I have just learned that Humane Society of the United States is working with an organization called CSPA (Consumer Specialty Products Association) to develop legislation for adoption by state legislators. Why can't the car part manufacturers just do it rather than be forced to do it?
At Feb 2010, as far as I know the following states have enacted such laws: Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia and Washington State.
I wonder if we can some how push this along a bit? A petition? Some angry voices! It is time that making antifreeze unpalatable to cats was made obligatory. The trouble is the cat is well down the list of priorities in a stretched government agenda.