Antifreeze poisoning in cats

Tabby kitten looking up © Leigh Hyland RSPCA Australia

Most people are unaware of the danger to pets from antifreeze poisoning. Eating the smallest amount can cause kidney failure and death, especially in cats. Here's more on antifreeze poisoning in cats, including the symptoms to look out for and how to keep your pets safe.

If you think your cat may have been poisoned by antifreeze

If you suspect your pet's come into contact with antifreeze or leaked water coolant, or if they're showing any of these symptoms, get them to a vet immediately:

  • Vomiting
  • Seeming depressed/sleepy
  • Appearing drunk and uncoordinated
  • Seizures (fits)
  • Difficulty breathing

Signs of antifreeze poisoning can show 30 minutes after they've eaten it. It can be two or three days before you notice signs of kidney failure.

The sooner your pet receives veterinary treatment, the better their chances of survival.

If left untreated, antifreeze poisoning can cause pain, suffering,v distress and ultimately death.

Protecting your pets from antifreeze

Pets die every year from accidental poisonings from antifreeze spills and leaks, as well as from leaking water coolant from cars, but most of these deaths are avoidable. To keep your cat safe, check your car regularly to make sure it isn't leaking water coolant, and be careful with storing, using and disposing of antifreeze and water coolant. Remember:

  • Keep antifreeze in clearly labelled, robust, sealed containers, away from pets and their environment.
  • Clean up spills immediately, no matter how small. Ensure your pets can't access the area until it's clean and safe.
  • Always dispose of antifreeze and water coolant safely and responsibly - contact your local authority for advice; see www.direct.gov.uk and 'search for your local council in England' on the home page. 

Intentional antifreeze poisonings of cats

We are deeply concerned and saddened about intentional antifreeze poisonings in cats across Britain.

Poisoning cats can constitute a criminal offence; under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, the maximum penalty for anyone found guilty is up to 6 months imprisonment and/or a £20,000 fine.

Rock salt poisoning in cats

Antifreeze isn't the only winter hazard to cats - the rock salt used to grit roads can also be toxic to animals. Find out more in our guide to rock salt poisoning in pets.

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