Watch CBS News

Anti-Freeze Blamed For South Miami-Dade Cat Deaths

SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE (CBS4) -A chemical found in virtually every car on the road, and in many home garages, has been blamed for the death of more than a dozen cats in the Hammocks area of Southwest Miami-Dade. Unknown is whether the cats were given the chemical, or whether they found it on their own.

The chemical is ethylene glycol, found in a lot of products but most common in anti-freeze or radiator coolant.

According to Dr. Maria Serrano, chief veterinarian with Miami-Dade animal services, blood tests taken during the necropsies of multiple cats points to ethylene glycol poisoning. Dr. Serrano said all cats showed signs of severe kidney failure and electrolyte imbalance.

The cats were found dead or dying in the Hammocks neighborhood around November 21st. They were strays, but Concetta Ciaccio and her daughters called them by name. For years, they came to Ciaccio's house on 147th place for food. Ciaccio says she started feeding the cats after people moved away and abandoned them following Hurricane Andrew.

That changed when she spotted dead cats in her yard and on the street.

A county investigation was started, and cat bodies were taken so tests could be done. It was those tests which pointed to the coolant as the culprit.

"It's deadly to not only cats but dogs and humans too," Ciaccio said Thursday night,  "so it's scary it's scary to think that you know if this was layng around people could have gotten hurt, so it's very sad."

While it was clear the cats were poisoned, it may be impossible to determine if the deaths were deliberate. Ethylene Glycol can taste good to animals, and can be fatal within hours after it is  consumed. Pets can be attracted to the chemical, and if spilled on the ground they may lick it up. Usually, experts say, animals will prefer water over the chemical.

Veterinarian Ron Hines, in an online column, said Ethylene Glycol  "has been the most common cause of serious accidental poisoning of dogs and cats" since it was first used in antifreeze in 1927.

The chemical first makes pets look like they are drunk, then affects liver function and kills them.

Megan Closer of the Cat Network said Thursday her organization would like to work with people in the Hammocks neighborhood, as they have in Miami Beach,  to help reduce the cat population which grew because most of the strays bred without restraint.

It's a very unfortunate situation," said Clouser, and this is exactly why we are encouraging people to fix the cat they are feeding in their backyard.There are humane alternatives to dealing with the cat overpopulation problem."

What is not known, and may never be known,  is if the South-Dade cats accidentally consumed the poison, of if they were intentionally made to consume the chemical.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.