Who's killing our kitties? Miami sees an outbreak of toxic cat cases
Lola went to the vet hospital after refusing food and becoming progressively more lethargic over the course of the previous evening. When her blood was drawn, she barely moved. Within an hour, it was clear her kidneys were shutting down. Lola was euthanized almost immediately. She was a calico domestic shorthair cat. And she was only sixteen months old.
Her vet immediately began wondering about last week’s case, a young cat presenting with a similar disease process. Though Lola’s mom had no money to spend (hence the rapid election for euthanasia), last week’s owner had shelled out a mint to find the cause of his young cat’s sudden decline.
Was this congenital? Toxic? Infectious? All the typical agents appeared to have been ruled out—but toxicity is what this vet had suspected given the predilection of kidneys for poisonous insult. But he couldn’t prove it—or pinpoint a possible source. After this initial case had eventually been euthanized, he’d asked permission to perform a necropsy. The owner had declined.
Later on the morning of Lola’s visit, the sharp doc put two and two together and determined both cats had come from the same neighborhood in Coral Gables. Both were young. Both were allowed out at certain times of the day. Both had similar symptoms. But what’s the toxic connection? Or might it be some transmissible infection?
After more dead cats began showing up in this neighborhood, necropsies performed revealed changes in the kidneys consistent with acute kidney (renal) failure and antifreeze intoxication.
Ethylene glycol-based antifreeze is a poison that shuts down the kidneys very quickly. It’s damage is irreversible once the kidneys are affected. Early on (within 24 hours of ingestion), however, the potential harm is reversible by administering an antidote that binds to the ethylene glycol molecule. (Vodka is what I used 12 years ago, but now we have a commercial product that works the same magic).
The problem is, when you don’t know that consumption has occurred, there’s no way to know what antidote to give. And by the time it becomes somewhat clearer via clinical signs, the damage has already been done.
So here’s the obvious question: What’s happening? Did the local WalMart run a special on poorly packaged antifreeze purchased by everyone on the block? Not likely. It’s murder for sure. Col. Mustard with the antifreeze on the porch is my guess.
Everyone knows antifreeze kills pets. Someone with a penchant for a poisonous solution to his neighborhood strays is almost certainly passing around the Kool-Aid. He (or she) is spiking the sickly sweet stuff with some tasty tuna juice and setting the dishes out strategically.
This is animal cruelty for sure. No one who’s eve seen a cat suffer renal failure would vouch otherwise. Hopefully he’s left a long trail of the green stuff leading right to his door. But something tells me that he’ll be cooling off his killing spree in the wake of public discontent. I just hope that when he’s caught he’ll pay off the vet bills, the City’s Humane Services bill, and do some hard time for his violent hatred of cats.
PS: Antifreeze does not HAVE to be toxic. Pet safe antifreeze is a little more expensive but well worth the splurge!