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ERAnimalNurse, Emergency Critical Care Nurse
Category: Cat
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Experience:  16+ years of veterinary experience
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My 15 week old male kitten, unaltered, approximately 4 lbs

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My 15 week old male kitten, unaltered, approximately 4 lbs and generally healthy, got into a tiny bit of old antifreeze today in our garage. We called the vet, who suggested to induce vomiting. We used 3% hydrogen peroxide in 2 doses (1 immediately, the second half an hour later when he didn't vomit after the 1st dose). Waited another half hour, to no avail. Called the vet again, who said to use a teaspoon of salt. We mixed it with water and used the syringe dropper to get it down to his tummy. Within a few minutes, he vomited, but not a lot and we know he had a full tummy. So we tried again, and all he'll do is choke up a little bit of frothy fluid. He's been fighting the need to vomit, but we think we've got most if not all of the glycol out of his stomach. However, from our attempt, he still has a decent amount of salt and/or hydrogen peroxide in his tummy. We've tried everything to get him to throw up - gently shaking him, massaging his belly, tipping him at a 45 degree angle upside down. My concern is - will the salt/hydrogen peroxide in his body hurt him? We pumped some water into his tummy with the liquid syringe, but I don't know what else to do and the vets in the area are all now closed. He seems sleepy, but I can't really blame him after that ordeal, I know he was stressed. Otherwise, he's shaking a bit (but once I warmed him in a towel he stopped) but seems normal. I've just been watching him for any abnormal behavior, but I want a definitive answer whether or not the salt/hydrogen peroxide will hurt him or not, and whether I probably would have gotten all the antifreeze out with him vomiting (a very small amount was ingested initially). Thank you.

I am so sorry that Loki is not feeling well. I want to impress upon you how serious the ingestion of antifreeze is. Cats die from this toxin and inducing vomiting is not sufficient treatment. Often the true extent of the damage manifests itself 12 to 24 hours after ingestion when the pet begins to vomit and becomes depressed. Blood tests at this stage reveal acute onset kidney failure. Cats are particularly sensitive to this toxin. Treatment includes hospitalization, iv fluid therapy to flush the kidneys, activated charcoal to prevent absorption of remaining toxin after vomiting, and administration of the antidote to antifreeze, a drug called Fomepizole (aka 4MP or Antizole). Please see the following websites for more information.


Time is absolutely of the essence here, and immediate treatment can mean the difference between life and death. I know that your regular vet is now closed, but you can go to an emergency hospital to have him hospitalized. Please let me know if you have any further questions. Good luck with your kitty, I hope he does well.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I contacted the nearest pet ER and they said it is unnecessary to bring him in. He only ingested a small amount, and we did get him to vomit within a couple of hours or less, apparently enough that there is no more threat from the antifreeze. They said to give him 2 teaspoons per day of Pepto for a few days to prevent the possibility of ulcers from the peroxide, and just to monitor him. If I see any change in him (and believe me, he's not leaving my side for the next 24 hours) I will have to figure out what to do, I just don't have the money to take him now (I'm in the middle of moving literally across the country and all of my money is tied up in expenses, and I got declined for CareCredit, AND none of the vets in northern Arizona allow payment agreements - I called EACH one down the list...not even the vet I have been seeing with three cats for more than 4 years). This is the worst possible time for this to happen, when all of my savings are tied up in other things. Thank you for your assistance, but unfortunately it seems I have no satisfactory answer other than what the only vet available in the area told me - not necessary to bring him in. I suppose I'll know soon, and I just pray that they've given me good advice.


I was hoping for advice that would be aside from just the "take him to the vet" since common sense would dictate to do so, if that option were viable to me. Had I the means to do that right now, I wouldn't have asked on here, and I would not have hesitated to do so, just to be safe. Any other ideas?

I completely understand that finances are tight, and this is the worst possible time to have this happen. That being said, there are just some instances that at home care is not sufficient. Suggesting you take Loki to the vet does in no way mean that I think you lack common sense and it does not indicate that I think you are a bad pet owner that does not love your kitty. I am bound to give you as much information as I can, and to provide you with sound advice to make sure your kitty gets the attention he needs. Being told by someone on the phone that he does not need to be seen is very similar to receiving advice from this site. Neither party has the benefit of having your pet in front of us, neither party has the benefit of vital statistics and lab tests. And, keep in mind that the people answering the phone at emergency clinics is usually not a vet, and not even a technician, but a receptionist who may or may not know what they are talking about. I hear your disappointment and frustration, and believe me, I share in the frustration part.


Because I have seen many cases of antifreeze toxicity and because I am so familiar with how sick these cats can get, I provided you with several websites to support the information I have given you. In my ER, we would NEVER tell an owner with a kitty that ingested antifreeze not to worry about coming in, or that it sounded like "he probably vomited most of it up". In my opinion, this is bad advice and is borderline malpractice. Unfortunately for you, the kidney failure that this toxin causes needs to be addressed ASAP, not two or three days from now. If money is tight now, you are really going to be in a bind if he does have symptoms of kidney failure, which requires hospitalization, fluids, and iv medications. Part of the reason I urge you to seek medical attention now, tonight is so that he can be examined, and you can be prescribed some anti-nausea medicines, take home fluids to give him under the skin and take some activated charcoal home too, which prevents further absorption of the antifreeze.


As far as any other ideas for at home care, nothing comes to mind that will support his system and flush his kidneys, prevent and treat nausea and absorb residual toxin. What can you do at home? Make sure he has plenty of water, switch to canned food if he is not already on it, because it is mostly water and that can help keep him hydrated. Please be aware that the kind of flushing his kidneys require cannot be achieved orally, but these are the steps you can take at home.


I am so sorry that this has happened, and I do understand that money is tied up in other places. I just feel that the vet you called has done you a disservice, and I hope your kitty doesn't suffer for it. I feel frustrated that you were advised, by a vet, over the phone, that has not seen your kitty, that he doesn't need to come in. I hope he does not have any issues. Please understand my frustration is not with you, I am just worried about your kitty. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I apologize for the tone of my post, and yes, I am extremely frustrated. My kitties have always been my "life force" - no matter what has happened in my life, I can always come home to a wonderful little meow and purr and soft, comforting body that doesn't care what my day was like, what I look like, or if I don't make enough money to have the next best thing, and it is so painful to not be able to give them the same support at a time like this that they have never failed to give me.


Thank you so much for your sound advice. I pray that he will be okay, he is my most precious thing in this world, and he's just so young and little. I am not frustrated with you, but with my own inability to help him properly when he deserves so much.


I will take your advice to heart, and in the meantime, I will do what I can for him. I can say this - I will never allow this situation to arise again. My kids will never go without, even if I have to go without instead.


I hope I have not been mislead by that vet, and that too much damage isn't done in the time he's been without treatment. Thank you so much for your patience, kindness, and firmness with your advice, and I hope you keep on helping kitties like my little baby Loki.