Nailsea cats poisoned by anti-freeze

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By Carol_Deacon | Sunday, January 01, 2012, 10:06

TWO concerned Nailsea women have raised the alarm after their much-loved cats died from drinking anti-freeze.

This month Sandi MacDonald, of Union Street, lost her beloved female pet Sid, a four-year-old tortoise shell, after drinking the poisonous liquid.

And just a few weeks earlier a beautiful two-year-old black cat called Wolfgang, who was owned by her friend Melanie Carey, of North Street, had suffered the same dreadful fate.

Golden Valley Vets clinical director David Holmes treated both animals.

He said: "We are 95 per cent confident the cats died from anti-freeze poisoning.

"What we don't know is whether there was any malicious intent or someone is being careless and leaving it where cats have access like a garage with an open door.

"Last winter there was a problem at Clevedon in the Strode Road area and that was deemed to have been malicious and previously we heard about six to eight cats being affected in Weston-super-Mare.

"It would make more sense if anti-freeze wasn't so palpable but it is very sweet and cats like it.

"If it could be made non-poisonous without affecting the function of the anti-freeze this would be great."

Sadly Sid was the mother of one of the kittens who died in Clevedon.

Sandi, aged 53, who runs the secondhand designer shop called Beautiful in Nailsea High Street, was mortified at the loss of her cat which she named after her late father.

After ingesting antifreeze, cats can suffer horrible symptoms including vomiting and seizures. The animals appear drunk and sleepy and have an increased breathing rate.

They will also often try to drink more fluids.

However, if anti-freeze poisoning is diagnosed within the first few hours there is an antidote but for Sid and Wolfgang they were too ill when they arrived at the veterinary hospital.

Initially both Sandi and Melanie, 38, a French-Canadian actor/model, thought their cats had suffered some sort of trauma when blood tests revealed the real reason it was too late and in both cases the decision was taken to put the cats to sleep.

Sandi said: "There wasn't going to be any miraculous recovery and we had to accept that Sid wasn't going to get better."

When Wolfgang first got ill he ran off and Melanie combed the area looking for him before he crawled home on his own accord.

She said: "It sucks that he suffered for days because we didn't know what was wrong.

"I have no children, I haven't been able to have any and my first cat was knocked down out the front so this is my second cat I have lost in three years.

"And this was my baby and I am still struggling.

Sandi said: "Despite the heartache we know we have to do something to warn others.

"Whether the cats are being poisoned deliberately or not is the 64 million dollar question.

"But we would like to start a campaign calling on all manufacturers to add an ingredient to anti-freeze making it unpalatable for animals and keep our pets safe."

There already is a UK manufacturer, Comma Oil & Chemicals based in Kent, which has done this.

All of its antifreeze coolant products have a 'bittering agent' added.

This bittering agent evokes an almost immediate gagging reaction in the animal – or person – that has swallowed it, preventing them from fully ingesting the substance and effectively avoiding being poisoned.

Marketing programme manager David Cooper said: "Comma prides itself on an ethos of safety – not just for ourselves, but also our customers.

"Adding the bittering agent benefits both humans and animals. 

"One way to help avoid such sad incidents occurring is to choose or ask a service mechanic to use an antifreeze coolant that contains bittering agent."

The RSPCA deals with hundreds of cases of antifreeze poisoning annually.

A spokesman said: "There is currently no legislation to make such additives a requirement.

"There is also no law governing how people should dispose of antifreeze when it is used domestically.

"The public should take extra care when using antifreeze to avoid spillages or leaks as cats could be lapping it up, either neat or when water coolant leaks from car radiators.

"Left over antifreeze and water coolant should also be disposed responsibly.

"The safest way is to take it in a suitable container to a council refuse site which should have facilities for disposing of hazardous fluids.

"There are concerns that cases of antifreeze poisoning could be deliberate.

"Under the Animal Welfare Act, those found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering face a £20,000 fine and/or six months in prison."

      

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