A sick poisoner is believed to have used anti-freeze to kill at least two cats in a quiet Mexborough neighbourhood.
Cat-lover Christine Bradder watched in horror, powerless to act, as her adopted feral cat Smoky Blue, died in convulsions and agony in front of her last week.
Christine, of Market Street, told how the three–year–old tortoiseshell had the “tell-tale sickly sweet smell of anti-freeze” on her breath.
Just days earlier, her neighbour, Paul Walters, found the body of one of Smoky Blue’s kittens underneath his patio.
Paul and wife Diane have a special reason to share their neighbour’s distress – their own half-Persian cat, Max, was poisoned almost exactly 10 years ago.
Christine is warning other pet owners in the area to be on their guard.
She said: “I think whoever has done that is a coward – whatever their reasons they have no right to harm any animal.
“It was horrible to watch. Smoky was fitting, snarling and rigid.
“It is no way for any animal to die. She was foaming at the mouth and had a sickly–sweet smell on her breath. I think it was anti–freeze – that chemical is like chocolate to cats, they love it for some reason.
“Smoky had at one time been tame, but had turned feral. She took up residence behind my garden and had a brood of kittens.
“I started putting food out at night, for them and two out of eight of them survived. I had all three of them spayed, and I am sure within a year Smoky would have become domesticated again.
“She was a beautiful cat – but it looks like someone decided to kill them off. If they don’t want cats in their garden, they can use a plant cats don’t like, to keep them away”.
Christine is worried for her remaining feral cat, her own domesticated oriental cat Tiao and her Doberman dog, adding: “I won’t let my other cat out of my sight now.
“We called the RSPCA, but they said we would have to pay for an autopsy to be sure about what had killed her.”
Christine’s neighbour, Diane Walters said her own cat Max was poisoned in a similar way a decade ago.
She told the Times; said: “It seems bizarre that the same thing has happened again after all these years. I can’t understand why anyone would want to kill such a beautiful animal.”
An RSPCA spokeswoman said it was difficult to prove if the poisoning had been deliberate, adding: “Every year the RSPCA is made aware of tragic incidents where cats are sadly believed to have died from ingesting anti-freeze.
“After ingesting anti-freeze, cats can suffer symptoms including vomiting, seizures, appearing drunk and sleepy and an increased breathing rate. They will also often try to drink more fluids.
“Owners should contact a vet immediately if they suspect that their pet may have been in contact with the chemical, or if they see any warning signs or symptoms.
“The sooner the cat is treated, the better its chances of survival.
“Under the Animal Welfare Act, anyone found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering face a £20,000 fine and/or six months in prison.
“Where there is evidence that an animal has been deliberately poisoned the RSPCA will look to prosecute those responsible.”
“It’s really important to take care when using, storing and disposing of anti-freeze. People should take extra care to avoid spillages or leaks.”