A plague of sudden and unforewarned cat deaths has torn through Ireland in recent days.
The culprit? Common antifreeze -- the sweet-smelling chemical that motorists use to keep their vehicles running in icy conditions.
The bizarre story comes as pet owners nationwide have reported a sudden spike in the number of sudden inexplicable deaths of their beloved felines in recent weeks.
Exact incidences have not been forthcoming, but one University College Dublin based vet remarked that: “Over the past few weeks we have seen an increase in the number of cats referred to the UCD Veterinary Hospital by local veterinary practitioners," confirming what many had already known.
“Many have died suddenly or after a short illness, and our post-mortem examinations have confirmed that these animals experienced rapid kidney failure following the ingestion of ethylene glycol, a major component of anti-freeze," the vet told the Irish Examiner.
The alarm was raised after pets around the country -- from Carlow to Cork and seemingly just about every county in between -- were found lying lifeless after having been struck down by the viscous chemical.
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It also seems as if dogs could be at risk unless preventative measure are brought into play -- a scenario that will prompt worry among canine-lovers as Ireland's winter continues.
“We cannot identify the precise sources of the ethylene glycol that is poisoning an increasing number of cats, but we are asking people to be vigilant with the storage, use, and disposal of their anti-freeze products," the vet said.
Cats are believed to be ingesting it after licking it off the sides of road surfaces, while dogs are reported to be scavenging for more plentiful sources, typically puddles and other greater accumulations of the toxic chemical.
Leaky car radiators have been pointed to as another source for the shocking outbreak.
The Road Safety Authority (RSA) is reported to be contemplating offering motorists official warning of the hazards of overusing antifreeze, while cautioning pet owners to be wary about letting their animals roam near areas that may have the liquid on their surfaces.
Unfortunately antifreeze has become something of a wintertime staple for Irish motorists following a series of unusually cold and difficult winters.
It can be purchased in common supermarkets for bargain-basement prices -- and it takes just a few mililitres of it to render any pet that ingests it a walking dead duck.
Pets that ingest the chemical will typically become uncoordinated and dizzy before finally succumbing to kidney failure and dying.
Dullness and listlessness are other warning signs of the pre renal failure stages but by then it is unlikely anything can be done.