Veterinarians are urging cat owners to be vigilant after a spike in the number of pets dying from suspected antifreeze poisoning.

Carlyle Veterinary Clinic is one of a number of Napier clinics which have seen cases of young, healthy cats going into severe acute kidney failure - a result of poisoning.

Known areas included Taradale, Tamatea and Maraenui.

Associate veterinarian Siobhan Ellis said the clinic had seen four suspected cases in the past two weeks, but had heard of a number of others through word of mouth.

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Each cat was similar in the way they presented, the clinical signs they were showing and how quickly they deteriorated, Ellis said.

Carlyle Veterinary Clinic has issued a warning to Napier cat owners on Facebook. Photo / Supplied
Carlyle Veterinary Clinic has issued a warning to Napier cat owners on Facebook. Photo / Supplied

She said it was not something they saw very often, with up to two in the past year.

"Antifreeze is something that is used in cars, so either licking it off someone's garage floor, or possibly, if someone is poisoning cats, they could be putting it on meat.

"It is quite palatable for all animals, including cats."

Ellis recommended owners kept their pets in at night. If a cat is showing symptoms, urgent medical attention is required.

"In all honesty, if someone is doing it maliciously, it is going to be very, very difficult to stop, because they are cats and we can't control them and keep them on our own property at all times."

CareVets Napier's Dr Stephanie Preston had one confirmed case and another suspected case of poisoning in the past three months.

One was a stray, while the other had an owner.

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"They came in not thinking they would be going home with no cat, so it was a big shock for them.

"It is fairly rare and especially here where there is not too much need for antifreeze very often in winter because it is not that cold. In terms of it being used and the cats licking it by accident, it shouldn't happen here."

Preston said it was really hard to save a cat with antifreeze poisoning.

"It happens so quickly."

After a cat had died, they were able to check for a "certain type of crystal in the urine that confirms that".

An SPCA spokeswoman said they don't have any active investigations at this time regarding potential antifreeze poisoning.

"There are no nationwide or local statistics to show the number of antifreeze - or other - poisoning."

Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, people can be jailed for wilful ill-treatment of an animal for up to five years, be given a fine of up to $100,000, or both.

ANTIFREEZE POISONING
There are three stages seen with ethylene glycol poisoning:
Stage 1: This occurs within 30 minutes to 12 hours, and looks similar to alcohol poisoning. Signs of walking drunk, drooling/hypersalivating, vomiting, seizuring, vomiting, and excessive thirst and urination are seen.
Stage 2: This occurs 12-24 hours after a dog or cat has gotten into antifreeze, and signs of "alcohol" poisoning appear to resolve, when underlying severe internal damage is still occurring. Signs of drunkenness seem to improve, but signs of an elevated heart rate, increase breathing effort, and dehydration may start to develop.
Stage 3: In cats, this stage occurs 12-24 hours after getting into antifreeze. During this stage, severe kidney failure is developing secondary to calcium crystals forming in the kidneys. Severe lethargy, coma, depression, vomiting, seizures, drooling and inappetance may be seen.