Hitchin Cats Poisoned

18 February 2011, 15:17 | Updated: 2 March 2011, 14:22

The RSPCA is appealing for information after two cats belonging to the same family died from anti-freeze poisoning.

Michael Briggs, of Heathfield Road, Hitchin, has been left devastated after his cats both died within weeks of each other.

In the first incident in January, his male, 14-year-old cat Georgie, returned home one morning in a distressed state and collapsed and died on the kitchen floor.

At the time, Mr Briggs had no idea what caused his cat’s death, but Georgie was foaming at the mouth and his tongue was hanging out.

Then just three weeks later on 4 February, his other cat Bow, who was just two-years-old, returned home and was displaying the same symptoms.

Mr Briggs, rushed Bow to the vets, and an examination revealed he had been poisoned with antifreeze.

Sadly Bow’s condition deteriorated so fast he had to be put to sleep, to prevent him suffering further.

Mr Briggs said: “This is such a terrible thing to happen, they were both beautiful cats and they died an agonising death. We just want to warn other people of the dangers of antifreeze and its devastating effect on animals and appeal to anyone who may have had any information. This may have been just an accident, but we want to raise awareness to prevent it from happening again.”

RSPCA inspector Kim Lawrence, added: “Many of us are not aware of just how toxic antifreeze is so it is important that people take care when using, storing or disposing of it. We would appeal to anyone who has any information about this incident to contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999.”

The chemical ethylene glycol, found in some household brands of antifreeze, has potentially lethal consequences when ingested by cats.

Cats seem to enjoy the taste of this ingredient, but they can soon suffer agonising deaths if they eat or drink it.

Nationally, the RSPCA is dealing with more and more cases of cats suffering with antifreeze poisoning every year. In 2007 it took 41 calls but by 2009 this had shot up to 259. By November last year, 248 calls had already been taken.

The public are urged to 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 of responsibly. The safest way is to take it in a suitable container to a council refuse site which should have the 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.