ITHACA, N.Y. – The person who mixed an antifreeze chemical with cat food in Collegetown could face felony animal cruelty charges and up to a year in prison, an SPCA official said.

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Six cats are dead, one is being treated, and three kittens are being monitored for symptoms after ethylene glycol was found mixed in dry cat food in a parking lot Sunday, said Jim Bouderau, executive director for the SPCA in Tompkins County.

Bouderau said animal control officers executing a legal trap and release initiative in the area found a dead cat Saturday. Three other cats were captured when officers saw they had neurological symptoms, such as loss of balance.

“It was suspicious from the beginning,” he said, but the cats were also tested for rabies as a precaution.

The SPCA is waiting for toxicology results for the cats to be completed, but the incident is being looked at as a criminal investigation, Bouderau said.

He said the SPCA wants to pursue the harshest punishment available for the person or people responsible for the deaths.

Officers found two more dead cats in the area Tuesday. Three 2-week-old kittens were also found near the parking lot and belonged to one of the dead cats.

Bouderau said the kittens are being monitored for symptoms at the Cornell University Animal Hospital. They likely did not eat the cat food but might have been exposed to the chemical when their mother fed them.

The kittens appear to be in good condition as of Wednesday and – if they do not have other health problems – could be adopted in eight to nine weeks, he said.

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at jalmendarez@ithacavoice.com; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.