Thursday, January 29, 2015

In the news: Antifreeze poisoning in West Salem kills 9 cats

Jasper the cat sitting outside

Cats who hop around outside (like Jasper) can be a neighbor nuisance. They might poop in another person's garden, mark another person's house or spark conflict with cats or dogs who are trapped inside. In general, it's better to keep cats inside.

But sometimes, we cat rescuers don't have the luxury of keeping our wee ones inside. That's the dilemma my husband and I face, and we do our part to make sure our old cats don't push our neighbors to the limit. We've also signed an informal in-house agreement, promising that we won't have any more outdoor cats in the future.

And early this month, that agreement began to seem downright necessary.

In one west Salem neighborhood, many families had cats who roamed freely. They did the traditional cat things I've described up top (I presume), and one neighbor was more than a little upset about that. He wanted to keep the kitties out of his yard, so he allegedly mixed some cat food with antifreeze and put those bowls of food out for the cats.

At the end of this episode, at least nine dead cats were connected to this case. And the man was charged with one count of first-degree aggregated animal abuse. (Here's a link to an article about his arrest.)

Antifreeze poisoning is a truly terrible sentence to impose on a cat. The list of symptoms associated with even a half of a tablespoon includes wobbling, vomiting and seizures. Early reports of this particular poisoning case suggested that children found their cats behaving like this, and some of those children had their beloved pets die in their arms.

That same early report suggests that the man who allegedly poisoned these cats didn't realize that the creatures would suffer so or that they'd take so long to die. Apparently, he thought the whole thing would be over in minutes.

But whether the death is painless and fast or long and agonizing, it's still a crime. And it also seems really unnecessary. People who dislike cats roaming free should talk with their neighbors before they bust out the weaponry. If the neighbors won't change, cat-proofing steps can include:
  • Putting up a fence
  • Using chicken wire to cover bare ground
  • Strewing shavings of soap around areas in which the cats are banned
  • Installing motion-activated sprinklers
  • Getting a dog 

Seriously, there are scads of steps to take that don't involve poisoning an animal. I'm just horrified that this person (allegedly) didn't think of them or try them first. The loss of life sickens me.

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