Ethylene glycol antifreeze is a cat-killer in winter

Why my friend's cat died - ethylene glycol poisoning

My friend Naomi, aka Blue Crow, has just had to deal with a truly heart-breaking situation. Naomi has had to say goodbye to her dearly-beloved cat Mischief who has been poisoned and has been hanging on to life at the vets ever since she was rushed there.

Unfortunately the poison Mischief swallowed has destroyed her kidneys, and whilst she has been able to eat again whilst on a drip, without it she is sure to die and it is obviously impossible to keep her hooked up this way.

The deadly toxin that the poor animal has lost her life to is a very common one and it has a sweet taste which adds to its danger. This is a very real threat to the lives of our very dear animal companions.

Mischief the cat

A cat named Mischief
A cat named Mischief

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Sweet tasting but lethal

The antifreeze Ethylene glycol claims the lives of millions of cats and dogs that innocently lick the stuff up.

Ethylene glycol poisoning symptoms include increased thirst and urination, lack of coordination, weakness, nausea, vomiting, rapid breathing and heart rate, convulsions, diarrhea, and paralysis. The longer the animal has been without veterinary treatment for the condition the less chance there is of recovery. Sadly by the time the most caring pet-owner has found out that their companion animal is very sick it is often too late and the damage has been done.

The problem is that Ethylene glycol is processed by the animal's body into oxalic acid which then damages the kidneys. If the damage is great enough then there is no way the cat or dog can recover or live without functioning kidneys.

Cats and dogs may find spilled antifreeze on the ground and lick it up not realising the extreme danger they are in. Even if they merely walk through the stuff and get it on their fur they are at great risk because if they try to clean it off their paws they will ingest the poison.

It is not just dogs and cats that do not know about the dangers of the very commonly used chemical product because many people do not know what it can do. Ethylene glycol must always be stored safely and never spilled on the floor or thrown away carelessly where domestic animals and wildlife can come into contact with it. Ethylene glycol may keep your car running in winter but it can kill your best friend!

© 2009 Steve Andrews

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Comments 29 comments

Blue Crow profile image

Blue Crow 7 years ago from Yorkshire

Thanks for putting this out there Steve.

What is more disturbing is that people are using anti freeze in their water features to prevent freezing. Wildlife and cats all enjoy drinking from these pools... certain death.

I will be researching this chemical and finding out how to ban it or at least make manufacturers responsible by putting an additive in to make it taste horrible.

Mischief was put down at 1pm today and buried under my twisted hazel tree, where she used to play. RIP Mischief x

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Naomi, thank you for adding that very important information which I didn't realise! Of course birds and aninals drink from pools - don't people think about what they are doing?

I will promote this at Facebook and on Twitter now.

Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Thank you Bard for putting this out. So true, in winter, many of our furry friends seek shelter in the garage, under the car where all kinds of auto drips occur. We were guilty of our Kittie's demise because we had an oil leak that we neglected. My sincere condolences to Naomi.

nicomp profile image

nicomp 7 years ago from Ohio, USA

Wasn't a law proposed requiring anti-freeze to contain a bad-tasting substance in order to discourage animals from drinking it?

Here's one link I found:

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your feedback, GL and Nicomp!

AdamCairn profile image

AdamCairn 7 years ago from UK

Eek! I won't be having my anti-freeze sandwiches for lunch today then.

fastfreta profile image

fastfreta 7 years ago from Southern California

That sounds so sad. I never knew it was that common. Something should be done about the taste and smell of antifreeze, because not only animals die from ingesting it. Very good.

Ivorwen profile image

Ivorwen 7 years ago from Hither and Yonder

There are 'pet safe' types of antifreeze out there. My dad was always careful to buy them, so that if a spill should occur, the ground would not become poisonous to the animals.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

I am glad to hear it, Ivorwen! We need everyone getting these types of antifreeze and putting the bad types out of business!

lisadpreston profile image

lisadpreston 7 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

I am devastated to hear this. I am so sorry for Naomi's loss. Thank you for bringing this to public attention. I did not know these things. I will be cautious walking my Mini. R.I.P. precious little Mischief.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for posting, Lisa! I didn't know about this either until the very sad news about Naomi's Mischief!

Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

This is such a terrible way for a pet or wild animal to die. When we still lived on our farm, neighboring farmers would lace meat with anti-freeze to poison animals that were either nuisances or feared (like coyotes). We have the devastating experience of our beloved Great Dane eating the poisoned meat that had been put out by someone as a bait to kill coyotes and having to be put down. I cried for three days.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Someone poisoned a cat I had on this island in 2005 and I was crying three days later too so I am not surprised at your reaction, Jerilee! It is so horrible that good animals die like this after doing something that is part of their instinctive natural behaviour!

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Thank you for this hub. Shall watch my pooches. Hope this hub stops people putting this into their water features etc.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for posting, Ethel! I hope so too!

Bieberella profile image

Bieberella 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

To be a smart ass I was going to write: "Where can I get some of this?"

But my fiancé told me that would be in very bad taste.

I'm just very frustrated with my two giant cats, Bartimis and Smokey (whom I love dearly), because they keep bringing live and dead mice into my house! It's disgusting.


angel 6 years ago

we just lost our feline to poisoning of antifreeze me and my kids are very sad and our mourning over the lost of our cat he died yesterday i would like to see someone come up with new ideas to save these animals our cat (Simba) was a rescue cat he was very much apart of our family and loved we r all very heartbroken

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for posting, Angel! I am very sorry to hear of your loss!

woodchuck killer 6 years ago

Here's a thought, why don't you keep your cats inside, then they won't get hurt. I rescued two cats and they are inside only. There are so many feral cats around, it would be dangerous, besides the poisons, cars, dogs, etc. would leave your child outside alone to face these dangers> So, your cat is so LOVED and is such a part of your FAMILY, why don't you act like it?

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Well, Woodchuck, I am forced to keep my cat indoors apart from her going out on a balcony and I feel really bad about this. She gets bored and eats too much. It would be far better if she could go and out and do normal stuff that cats do like climb trees, hunt small animals, met other cats, etc

woodchuck killer 6 years ago

I agree, I have always had indoor/outdoor cats. I kept them all up to date on shots and they were always spayed. I use Advantage too. However, when I moved here 5 years ago, there is such a huge feral cat population that I wouldn't let my new adopted cats out for fear of diseases like FIV. I feel bad too, but they have toys and a climbing tree besides the run of the house and basement. People in this area do not spay/neuter and the cats are very destructive. I have "hoarders" next door, and there are at least 10 cats I count in the yard daily. None are fixed and I am sure not up to date with shots.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

A lot of people don't bother with their cats here too plus it is dangerous for them wandering about and I know many have short lives. Sadly I only have an apartment and Tiggy gets bored with toys she has and bored with what is here and I don't blame her.

woodchuck killer 6 years ago

Just remembered-over the summer a wife poisoned her husband with a margerita laced with anti-freeze. He died. Hehehe, sounds like the song "Earl has to die" by the Dixie Chix. Of course she was found out and convicted.....

Blue Crow profile image

Blue Crow 6 years ago from Yorkshire

I'm about to write my own Hub about this subject.. I invite you all to read it.

Woodchuck, there was a case in the UK where the wife was lacing her husbands food/drink with it to get his insurance money. He nearly died and even when he was lying dying in ICU, she carried on poisoning him with poisoned fruit juice! callous evil xxxx poor bloke was in a coma for weeks, is deaf, blind and only 38 years old with their 9 year old son... he has to have full time care now. So not really thst funny at all. One woman on the facebook group said her teenage son had his drink spiked with antifreeze in a nightclub...

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for posting, Naomi! Give me a shout when you have published your hub.

ANGIE 6 years ago

My beloved ten year old companian died last night.He was called Bruce and was ten years old.He had the most wonderful temprament and was truly a handsome chap.The test results from the vet show he died from anti freeze poisening.I am devastated.

I wish the companies would find a way of making this substance less toxic.RIP my handsome Bruce.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

I am very sorry to hear this, Angie! My sympathies on your very great loss!

Angie Adams 6 years ago

Hi. First I want to thank you for making this page available. My situation was a little different. I have two indoor male cats,Sox and Snoball neuteured, very well taken care of. About 3 yrs ago we had neighbors in our apartments dump their male cat, Garfield, out when they moved, I felt so sorry for the poor guy and took him under my wing and nursed him back to health. He was never neutered.. In June he brought home one of his offspring. Being a cat lover I couldn't turn her away and she became my 3rd indoor cat, Poochie. We got her spayed, shots. Saturday night Garfield came home, limp swollen tongue, vomiting, bloody diarrhea. I put him in my room and laid with him for a bit and came down stairs. About 15 minutes later, he was screaming and convulsing. He couldn't stand up and fell on his side and died. He was scheduled to get neutered this week. Apt manager says they found several other dead cats this Monday. How cruel can a person be to knowingly poison these animals??? My heart is broke for the loss of this cat, but at the same time I knew I should have done more for him. He's now buried by my back porch in a beautiful grave. The other cats just sit and the back door looking for him and cry.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 6 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

So sorry to hear of your very sad loss! Thank you for posting!

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