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Cats and antifreeze

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Here's a question I've had for awhile.
I've heard that antifreeze is attractive to cats because of it's sweet taste, thus leading them to drink it and get poisoned. However I have also read that cats in general are unable to taste sweetness because they lost the ability through a genetic mutation that occurred early on in the cat family's evolution. I've also heard this cited as one of the reasons that cats are more exclusively carnivorous then dogs. Is this true? if so, why would cats find antifreeze so appealing if they are unable to taste it? does the smell attract them instead and they drink it despite not being able to taste what they are drinking?
post #2 of 4
Smell and taste are so closely tied together that one can't strictly look at taste buds.

Have you ever been very congested, so much so that you can't smell? Food tasted weird or bland, didn't it?

Cats have amazing noses, better than dogs iirc. So yes, it would probably be safe to assume that the smell of antifreeze does smell pleasant to them and there's not terrible taste there (that they can taste) to discourage them. So they drink it, probably when looking for water - or they encounter it mixed with water in puddles.

With people that are intentional poisoners they go so far as to soak food with antifreeze and to place it out or into the yard where an animal lives. I caught a guy trying to feed antifreeze soaked dog food to our great dane as a child. I couldn't have been more than four or five, but I knew what he was doing and yelled at him.
post #3 of 4
Antifreeze is some nasty stuff. I know this is rare, but it is another way they get into it, even with out taste.
We had a cat when I was younger who fell into a bucket of it when my dad was draining it from a car. He was covered, head to toe. Luckily, we found him quite quickly and scrubbed him clean- repeatedly. That was the most miserable cat I have ever seen. He slept for two days or so afterward, and was good as new. I'm glad they have that safer antifreeze stuff.
post #4 of 4
As long as this subject is here, I'll add the warning that some of those driveway portable basket ball hoops are weighed with water in the base rather than sand.

Antifreeze is added to the water to keep it from freezing (which would cause expansion and break the base).

So if you have one of those portable hoops, or have neighbors who have one, find out what is in the base. If it is the water and antifreeze combination, check frequently for leaks, or replace it with sand.
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