ITHACA, N.Y. – Four cats are dead after someone intentionally mixed cat food with clear antifreeze in a Collegetown parking lot, SPCA officials said.

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Cornell University officials said in a news release Monday that they were investigating how the first cat died and the cause of the symptoms of the three other cats.

Toxicology results showed that the cats ate Ethylene glycol, officials said Wednesday.

Two other cats were also found dead in the area Tuesday.

The following is a press release by the Tompkins County SPCA:

Tainted food found at site of cat poisoning in Ithaca

A container of dry cat food mixed with anti-freeze may have been behind the recent cat poisonings in Ithaca’s Collegetown.

Tompkins County Animal Control officers searching the area Monday discovered a plastic container of dry cat food mixed with a liquid later identified as ethylene glycol, more commonly known as anti-freeze. The container was found in a Collegetown parking lot where one cat was found dead, and three others very sick, on Sunday.

All four cats were brought to the Tompkins County SPCA for care and testing. The three cats found alive had to be humanely euthanized due to the severity of their symptoms. The cats were members of a managed feral colony in the Collegetown neighborhood.

Cornell Toxicology identified the liquid as anti-freeze on Tuesday. Although most commercial anti-freeze products contain a bright green coloring, this substance was clear.

“Ethylene glycol is highly toxic to cats,” says Dr. Elizabeth Berliner, Director of Shelter Medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, who has been helping to care for the affected cats. Dr. Berliner says the impact of the poison depends on the amount ingested, and a teaspoonful is toxic to the average cat.

“Within a few hours of ingestion, cats ingesting a toxic dose will experience neurologic signs, including seizures, lethargy, and coma,” says Dr. Berliner. “Over 12 to 24 hours the signs will progress to kidney failure and death.”

A fifth cat with potential exposure to the anti-freeze has continued to do well and does not show signs of illness at this point. Further tests are still pending on all of the cats to assess their exposure to this substance.

Late Tuesday night, Two more deceased cats were found in the area according to Jim Bouderau, Executive Director of the SPCA of Tompkins County. Three bottle feeding kittens were also found and have been brought to the Cornell University Animal Hospital for monitoring.

SPCA Humane Investigators continue to collect evidence at the site and search for more cats that may be affected.  The SPCA now considers these cases intentional and the investigation is ongoing.

For more information please contact Jim Bouderau, Executive Director SPCA of Tompkins County at 607-257-1822 x227 or atdirector@spcaonline.com

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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.