The Hervey Foundation for Cats
Is Antifreeze Bad for Cats? How to Keep Them Safe This Winter

Is Antifreeze Bad for Cats? How to Keep Them Safe This Winter

The answer is simple. Ethylene glycol, also known as antifreeze, is extremely poisonous to cats and can even prove fatal. A small teaspoon is enough to cause serious illness or death. It is up to us as cat owners to ensure they are never allowed to interact with this dangerous liquid despite it being such a necessity in the winter season. 

Cats tend to come into contact with antifreeze through spillage. It’s not often they are able to get to a bottle on a shelf, let alone one that is open. In most cases, it’s when we add antifreeze to our vehicle’s radiator or windshield washer fluid, sometimes extra liquid spills to the ground, and that liquid gets to our cats. 

In the winter, antifreeze may sit on top of the snow, making it easy for your cat to lap it up. Additionally, some cats may roll around or sit on antifreeze spillage and then groom themselves later. Either way, if your cat has interacted with antifreeze, they need to get to the vet as soon as possible.

How Do You Know if Your Cat Consumed Antifreeze?

When a cat consumes antifreeze, they will exhibit symptoms roughly half an hour later. These can include (but are not limited to): Sickness, wobbling while walking (appearing drunk), and drinking and urinating a lot. Some cats will collapse. Antifreeze damages a cat’s kidneys and liver, often proving fatal. It’s important to stay aware of their normal behaviours so we can identify when they are sick and acting out of the ordinary.

Are There Alternatives to Ethylene Glycol?

Though unfortunate, there really aren’t any direct alternatives to ethylene glycol. Antifreeze can be purchased with propylene glycol in some places, though it is not completely safe. In most scenarios, it is best to just ensure you are storing your antifreeze safely.

How to Store Antifreeze

Antifreeze should be kept on a shelf away from places where cats might be tempted to roam. Keep it in a tightly sealed container with a lid. When pouring antifreeze into your vehicle, or into another container, always keep some paper towel nearby to wipe up any spillage. Wipe both the bottle and the ground or any other places where it might have spilled to.   

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