Hungover Cat

I am gutted. Yesterday an upset bottle of Highland Park splashed onto my cat, Minky. Although it was a minature, and at most 40 ml were lost, my grief was indescribable.


I suspected something was wrong when a confusedly staggering and plaintively crying moggy appeared under my feet, and to add insult to her injury, caught half a mug of luckwarm tea in her face. After deep, deep sleep later, she angrily swiped away any attempts to pet her head.

On a serious note, I discovered that alcohol is not just non-lethal to cats, but is also used as an emergency antidote against ethylene glycol (main constituent of antifreeze) poisoning. Minky certainly does seek out the taste of bleach, but I did not know cats also have a predilection for sweet-tasting ethylene glycol and as little as one teaspoon could result in painful death.

Symptoms involve:

1) CNS Depression Phase – ethylene glycol is rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Within 30 minutes to 12 hours of ingestion the cat show the following symptoms:

  • The cat will appear intoxicated, stumbling, lack of coordination, dizziness & vomiting;
  • Excessive thirst;
  • Excessive urination;
  • Seizures;
  • Vomiting.

These symptoms last for approximately 12 hours after ingestion. After this, the cat may appear to recover.

2) Cardiopulmonary Toxicity Phase – approximately 12 – 24 hours after ingestion the following symptoms appear:

  • Tachypnea;
  • Tachycardia;
  • Metabolic acidosis;
  • Hypertension;
  • Lethargy.

3) Renal Toxicity Phase:

  • Kidney failure;
  • Vomiting;
  • Depression;
  • Coma.

I had known of the metabolic processes behind ethylene glycol poisoning in humans, and that ethanol would be preferentially metabolized by the liver thus allowing the ethylene glycol to be excreted in urine; so this makes sense.  Note, I am not a vet, so if anyone suspects their cat (or child and, even, dog) has ingested antifreeze, professional assistance should be sought immediately.

Ethanol may be administered, however.  But not Highland Park malt.


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6 Responses to “Hungover Cat”

  1. Mira Vogel Says: No more spills.

  2. Alec Says:

    Cor, first Eve and now you visit the Warren, Mira. This place is becoming hallowed ground!

    Is that for me or Minky?

    She’s back to her old self now, and spent last night presenting me with moth after moth from around the bramble bush.

  3. Mira Vogel Says:

    I knew you were going to ask that.
    Alec, I’m not sure how big a rabbit you are but she probably has her eye on you too.

  4. Dominic H Says:

    I at least hope it was a good 17-year Highland Park

  5. Alec Says:

    The 12 year old stuff, fortunately.

    Mira, Minky’s a dainty little thing (see here emerging from the arms of morpheus, without a hangover) but even if she were like this fat lump, I’d still take her on. Even dogs don’t scare me.

  6. Fabian from Israel Says:

    My cultural background shows in that I cannot for the life of me understand why people have antifreeze liquid at home. I don’t even know what that is or how do you use it!

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