The RSPCA is appealing for information after at least three cats died from poisoning in the Santingfield South area of Luton.
Ebony, a four year old black cat (pictured), came home on 27 October. She had been missing for two days and was disorientated and not eating when she did come home. Her owner thought she was just off colour, but when Ebony seemed to deteriorate she took her to the vet the next day.
Despite treatment, Ebony’s condition continued to worsen and she died later that day, having suffered kidney damage. Vets concluded that Ebony had been poisoned and said that the cause could be either lilies or antifreeze. As there were no lilies in the area, this was ruled out and antifreeze suspected.
Ebony’s owner lost two of her other cats about a year ago. Poppy and Smoky suffered similar symptoms. It is also thought that owners in nearby South Drift Way have lost cats to poisoning in recent months.
RSPCA inspector Stephanie Law said: “We don’t know if these poisonings were deliberate or accidental. We always appeal to people to be careful when using antifreeze and not leave it lying around as the taste can be appealing to cats and causes an agonising death.
“However, we can’t rule out the possibility that someone is poisoning animals deliberately so we need to ask anyone who knows about this to contact us as it is illegal. Antifreeze poisoning causes enormous suffering to pets and huge upset for their owners and is entirely avoidable and unnecessary.”
Those with information should contact the RSPCA inspector information line on 0300 123 8018.
In 2012 the RSPCA received 593 calls about antifreeze poisoning, up from 549 in 2011. These may just be a small percentage of the animals affected, as many incidents go unreported and some owners may not even realise their pets have been poisoned.
The chemical ethylene glycol, found in some household brands of antifreeze, has potentially lethal consequences when ingested by cats.
They can suffer symptoms including vomiting, seizures, appearing drunk and sleepy and an increased breathing rate. They will also often try to drink more fluids.
Under the Animal Welfare Act, those found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering by poisoning a cat face a £20,000 fine and/or six months in prison.
Owners should contact a vet immediately if they suspect that their pet may have been in contact with the chemical or if they see any warning signs or symptoms. The sooner the cat is treated, the better their chances of surviving.
If anyone has any information about suspected antifreeze poisonings they can contact the RSPCA in confidence on 0300 1234 999. For information on how to detect antifreeze poisoning visit www.rspca.org.uk/poisoning