Antifreeze advice for cat owners

As winter approaches, leading cat charity International Cat Care (iCatCare) is keen to warn cat owners about the dangers of antifreeze. Ethylene glycol, otherwise known as antifreeze, is a chemical commonly used during the winter to prevent freezing, but for cats this chemical is deadly, and as part of its Keeping Cats Safe campaign, iCatCare has produced important safety advice for owners.

Antifreeze is commonly used in car radiators, screen washes and de-icers, as well as in garden water features to stop them freezing over. Cats typically come into contact with antifreeze if the liquid is incorrectly stored or spilled, from drinking from a garden water feature with antifreeze added, or regrettably from malicious poisonings.

Unfortunately, cats appear to be are attracted to ethylene glycol – although not for its sweet taste as is often thought (cats cannot taste ‘sweetness’) – yet drinking just a tiny amount will cause serious illness and even death. Once ingested, ethylene glycol is broken down in the liver and this process produces other chemicals that cause severe and permanent damage to the cat’s kidneys. This damage is often so severe that the cat cannot survive. Treatment is time sensitive and should be sought immediately. If the cat has already developed kidney damage by the time it is seen by a vet, treatment will not work, so it is vital that owners are vigilant and act fast. 

iCatCare has produced the following advice:

  • Avoid using antifreeze altogether (use screen wash and de-icer sprays that do not contain ethylene glycol).
  • NEVER use antifreeze in outdoor water features.
  • If you do have antifreeze products, keep in clearly labelled, sealed containers.
  • Store any products containing ethylene glycol safely away from animals (and children).
  • Clean up any spillages immediately and keep cats away from affected areas until dry.
  • Look out for the signs of antifreeze poisoning: sickness; a wobbly gait (appearing ‘drunk’); weakness; tiredness; increased drinking and urination; and collapse.
  • Be aware of your cat’s normal health and behaviour – this will help you to notice signs of illness and seek veterinary treatment as soon as possible.
  • If you suspect your cat has been poisoned with antifreeze, seek immediate veterinary treatment. Antifreeze poisoning is lethal and the faster you can get your cat treatment, the better chance it has of surviving.

To help make more people aware of how deadly antifreeze is to cats, iCatCare has also produced a free downloadable antifreeze poster, which lists information and advice for cat owners. To share the poster or to download it for display in pet shops, groomers, catteries and veterinary clinics etc, please go to: www.icatcare.org/advice/keeping-cats-safe/antifreeze 

For more information on antifreeze and the Keeping Cats Safe campaign go to: www.icatcare.org/advice/keeping-cats-safe 

-ENDS-

18/11/15

Press enquiries:

Jo Vuckovic, Digital Communications Manager
jo@icatcare.org, +44 (0)1747 871872

Pictures:

Keeping Cats Safe logo


iCatCare’s free downloadable antifreeze poster 
>download as pdf

Notes to editors:

About International Cat Care (iCatCare)
A charity dedicated to the health and welfare of cats.

The International Cat Care vision:
All cats, owned and unowned, are treated with care, compassion and understanding.

The International Cat Care mission:
To engage, educate and empower people throughout the world to improve the health and welfare of cats by sharing advice, training and passion.

For more information, please visit http://www.icatcare.org or https://www.facebook.com/icatcare