Faversham vet fears malicious poisoning after six cats die in two days after drinking anti-freeze
Jasper died after drinking antifreeze
Six cats have died in Faversham within two days after drinking anti-freeze, which a town vet believes may have been given to them deliberately.
The pets all lived in the Stone Street and South Road area and were poisoned between Thursday and Friday.
One of the victims was Tabby Jasper, who belonged to nine-year-old Erica Courtney, of Stone Street.
Erica's mother Amy MacGregor said the whole family has been left shocked and distraught by the death - and Jasper's sister Jade has not eaten properly since he died.
Mrs MacGregor, 48, said: "I just feel so sad. Whoever is responsible for this wicked act of cruelty should be aware that it is not only the cats who have suffered in agony but so have the children and families they belonged to."
Mrs MacGregor said she arrived home at 5pm on Thursday and saw Jasper in the garden, but when she called him he did not come over to her.
She said: "He looked really peculiar. His back legs seemed to have collapsed and his eyes looked like he was on drugs.
"I picked him up and he was sort of in a coma. He was just lying in my arms shaking. We rushed him straight to the vets."
The family was told Jasper was the fourth victim of freeze poisoning in the area in just over 24 hours.
He was put on a drip and managed to survive the night, but died from kidney failure at noon on Friday.
Nine-year-old Erica Courtney with surviving cat Jade
His distraught owner added: "We brought his body back from the vets, held him for about an hour and then buried him in the garden.
"Our other cat is hardly touching her food and she's been desperately looking for him but she can't go out."
Erica saw an advert for kittens for sale two years ago and when she was taken to see them there were only two left from the litter.
"I picked him up and he was sort of in a coma. He was just lying in my arms shaking. We rushed him straight to the vets..." - cat owner Amy MacGregor
She was adamant the brother and sister should not be separated so persuaded her parents to buy both.
The family has spoken to police and the RSPCA and believe other victims have done the same.
They have posted leaflets through 120 doors in the area telling other pet owners to be vigilant, and scrawled a warning on the pavement outside their home in chalk.
They also passed the name of a potential suspect to police, who they say is a well-known "cat hater".
Father Laurence Courtney, 62, said: "In Canada, the USA and Switzerland manufacturers have to add something to antifreeze to make it taste bitter and stop animals drinking it.
"We must do the same here to stop the depraved actions of pet-haters.
"That fear will never go away. Even if whoever is doing it stops now, who’s to say they won’t start again in six months?"
The family buried Jasper in the garden
Erica added: "I think it's disgraceful that people can give cats antifreeze and they should definitely go ahead and make it taste bitter in England.
"Families should not have to go through the sorrow and pain of seeing their cats die."
Vet Trevor Munro, from the Faversham Veterinary Clinic in South Road, warned cat owners to keep their pets indoors if possible and take them to a vet at the first sign of anything being wrong.
He said: "There are two ways a cat can end up drinking antifreeze. One is when somebody is topping up antifreeze in their car and accidentally spills some; the other is malicious poisoning, when someone deliberately puts the substance into a bowl of water or mixes it with cat food.
"Because there has been such a high number of poisonings in a small area in a short space of time it is more likely to be malicious."
Vet Trevor Munro believes cats have been poisoned deliberately
He said the cats who died had ranged from young, healthy ones to much older animals.
There is something in antifreeze that tastes sweet to cats and makes them want to drink it, he added.
If owners can get their cat to a vet within three or four hours of them drinking the poison they can put them on a vodka drip.
The alcohol binds with the anti-freeze, making it safer, like an antidote, Mr Munro said.
He added: "My immediate advice to cat owners in the Stone Street and South Road area is to keep their cats indoors while the police are investigating and take them to a vet as soon as they notice any unusual behaviour.
"The first sign is lethargy. I would also advise people to be very careful when they are filling up their cars with antifreeze and if they do spill some hose it away.
"If anyone thinks they know who is doing this they should report that person to the police or RSPCA.
"Anti-freeze does glow under UV light so if the culprit has any on his or her hands or person the police will be able to find it.”
Erica Courtney and her parents are encouraging people to sign a petition at www.antifreeze-kills.co.uk to make it illegal to sell anti-freeze in the UK without adding a bitterant.
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