Two cats have died after being poisoned by anti-freeze in the Ribble Valley prompting the police to issue a warning to pet owners and motorists.
A spokesman for Ribble Valley Police said: "We have received a report of two cats dying from poisoning in the Sabden area.
"One has been confirmed as having been poisoned by anti-freeze - it is reported that the other had similar symptoms. It is not known how the cats have ingested the anti-freeze."
He added: "Anti-freeze is very poisonous to domestic animals. If it is administered deliberately then it is an offence under the Animal Act 2006 and will be investigated.
Cats Protection has recorded 189 suspected cases of anti-freeze poisonings in the first 10 months of this year, so vets are offering advice for drivers and pet owners to try and reduce the number of pets suffering.
“Not many drivers or pet owners are aware that their pets are at a high risk of falling ill from anti-freeze,” said Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets.
“But it contains a toxin called mono ethylene glycol, which is very harmful when consumed by animals, and ingesting even the smallest amount is enough to be potentially fatal.
“Signs of anti-freeze poisoning can show within 30 minutes of ingestion, as mono ethylene glycol is very fast acting and, without treatment, a pet can die within 24 hours. Just one teaspoon can prove lethal for a cat and one tablespoon for a dog.
“Cats are particularly at risk because they tend to hide under cars for shelter and could lick up just a few drops of anti-freeze that drop down from the engine.”
Among the advice issued by vets is for motorists to clean up accidental spills of anti-freeze and for owners to understand the signs of poisoning in their pets.
Jacqui Cuff, Cats Protection’s Head of Advocacy and Government Relations, said: “Tackling anti-freeze poisoning is not easy, however, we are keen that anti-freeze and other products containing ethanol glycol are labeled to warn consumers of the dangers to pets such as cats and dogs.
“Many labels already warn about the danger of anti-freeze to children if the product is consumed, but we’d like companies to add a warning regarding the danger to animals too.
“In the longer term we’d like to see anti-freeze manufacturers developing alternative non-toxic anti-freeze products.
“We’d also advise people to clear up any anti-freeze spills immediately and avoid using it in water features, to help prevent accidental poisonings.”
Any pet that has consumed anti-freeze can develop kidney failure and, if left untreated, can be fatal.
Signs of anti-freeze poisoning in cats or dogs include vomiting seizures and an increased thirst.
Dr Stacey added: “Anti-freeze is sweet tasting for pets, which is why they are drawn to licking up spills or leaks from a car engine, or if a bottle spills in the household and it isn’t cleaned up thoroughly.
“It is also used in water features to prevent them from freezing over in the winter, so if a pet is out roaming in nearby gardens, they may come across a fountain and innocently drink the running water not knowing its poisonous effect.
“Anti-freeze is helpful for our cars, but has detrimental effects on our beloved pets, so if an owner suspects their pet has ingested it, they need to take the pet to their local vet immediately.”