Angel was only a year old. On Oct. 1, he died and left his best friend, Joey, with a broken heart.
When Joey first met Angel, a real miracle happened. You see, Joey is a 7-year-old boy with a soft smile and a soft heart. He is a special-needs child with autism. Before Angel came into his life, Joey never spoke. He never hugged. He never made eye contact. He lived in a silent, lonely shell.
Angel, the tiny yellow kitten, changed all that. Joey talked to his kitten. He hugged his kitten. Then, quite suddenly, he started relating to humans, too. The neurologist was stunned. The changes came almost overnight. His mom studied autism extensively, and she knew that warm, loving animals could bridge the gap. She was right.
On the afternoon of Oct. 1, Angel returned home from a few minutes of freedom roaming the neighborhood. He began having seizures. He collapsed. The veterinarian confirmed the worst: Angel was poisoned with antifreeze. His kidneys stopped working. He fell into a coma. It was too late for antidotes. There was nothing that could be done. He was gently euthanized. Everyone cried: Joey, his mom, his grandma, the vet and her staff.
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It was so preventable. One of Joey's neighbors had just flushed and filled his radiator. A few drops spilled onto the driveway. Antifreeze is a deadly poison. It takes less than a quarter-teaspoon to kill a cat. Somehow cats and dogs are attracted to the smell and sweet taste of antifreeze. They will come from blocks away to lick a spot spilled on the driveway or poured in the grass. A pan of antifreeze left sitting out or improperly disposed of is a deadly magnet.
It didn't have to happen. What if Angel had just stayed indoors that day? What if the neighbor had read about the dangers? What if everyone used the newer non-toxic brands of antifreeze?
Let's memorialize this sweet kitty this way:
• Take your car to a professional mechanic to have the antifreeze changed or topped off. Don't do it in your driveway. Many garages have special suction units that remove antifreeze without any spills. The old solutions are then saved in barrels and shipped away to be recycled. If you decide to do it yourself, some shops will gladly take your old solution and dispose of it in his recycle barrel for you.
• If you have a leak or make a spill, cover the spill with cat litter, clay absorbent or newspaper. Wait an hour, sweep the litter into a dustpan, close it in a garbage bag and put it in the garbage can. Then hose down the spill with large amounts of water.
• Buy or request the new nonpoisonous brands of antifreeze. Avoid those brands containing ethylene glycol. There are non-toxic brands available locally at automotive stores. You just have to ask for them. The extra expense comes to about $4 per gallon. It's a small price to pay.
Most importantly, hug and kiss your cat and keep him safe indoors. There are too many dangers outside. Poisons, cars, kids with pellet rifles, dogs, fleas, heartworms -- the list goes on and on. Supervise your cat as you would your 7-year-old child. After all, a cat fills the same space in your heart as a child. Or an Angel.
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