Dangers of Snowglobes and Cats: Snow Globes Contain Anti-Freeze

| November 20, 2015 | 38 Comments

Dangers of Snowglobes and Cats: Snow Globes Contain Anti-Freeze

Guest post by Donna (Originally published on June 15, 2012)

Charlie

Charlie

This is a difficult story to write but every year before the holidays I send out a warning about the unknown dangers of snow globes.  You know the beautiful holiday decoration that many of us collect and display. I’m sharing it with you with hopes you will publish on Floppycats.

This is a story of Charlie.  We adopted him in May of 2006 during an All Pet Adopt-A-Thon I founded and organized in Jacksonville Florida.  He was about 4 months old and had a beautiful coat, fabulous eyes and a face you couldn’t resist!  I knew he had to be mine.

Charlie

Charlie

As Charlie adjusted into his new forever home it became apparent he was a very smart kitty, always ready to play but also always ready to love and be loved.  He shared his home with his brothers and sisters and had great time.  He was growing and developing into a magnificent animal.  His fur grew longer, eyes turned a beautiful blue gray and his tail was the envy of all the kitties.  Thick, bushy and amazing!  Charlie had the personality and looks you can only imagine.  He was my boy.

Charlie and Franklie

Charlie and Franklie

On Christmas Eve day 2006 my beautiful Ragdoll wannabe Charlie was being himself, into everything.  The door to the guest bedroom was open because one of my other kitties was sleeping on the bed. Usually the door is kept locked.  We have a couple of kitties that have acquired door opening skills.  I didn’t want to disturb him so I just walked by and headed for work.  Later in the day I received a call from my husband saying I was not going to be to happy because Charlie had jump on the chest of drawers, knocked over a snow globe and it had broken.  Although I was upset (it had been my mom’s before she passed away in 2004) you have to expect things happening when you have cats.

Jim, my husband, had cleaned up the mess and dried Charlie off.  I work retail so I didn’t get home until after 6:00 p.m. that evening and noticed Charlie behaving a little strange.  His big fluffy tail was down and he seemed to be not feeling well.  I asked Jim how he had been through out the day.  Jim said Charlie had joined him for a nap earlier and was very affectionate rubbing all over him and wouldn’t leave him alone.

I decided to do some research into what could be in the liquid contents of the snow globe.  I called poison control and was told most likely it could have salmonella and Charlie had just a little upset stomach. I am never satisfied with an assumption and hit the computer to further my research.  To my horror, I discovered snow globes contain ethylene glycol (anti-freeze) to prevent freezing during shipping.  Most are imported from China.

Charlie had anti-freeze positioning!  Just a small amount left on his fur was enough to do the damage even after my husband had dried him off. The poison was  destroying his kidneys.

Panic stricken I called a friend from a rescue group to see if she had any info in how to treat Charlie. With no experience in treating anti-freeze poisoning I rushed Charlie to our local emergency vet hospital.   By this time 7 hours had passed since the accident and Charlie’s time was running out.

After what seemed to an eternity, Charlie was tested for anti-freeze poison.  The results were positive and unfortunately  too much time had passed and  his kidneys had started to crystallize.  I was devastated and asked they treat him with the slightest possibility he could be saved.  In nine hours the damage is irreversible.

I left Charlie for treatment overnight and picked him up on Christmas day.  He was still hanging on but was getting worse by the hour.  The next day I took Charlie to another emergency vet hospital.   He was treated and but his chances for survival were becoming slim.  The following day my regular vet was open and I brought Charlie in.  Dr. Sleeper made arrangements for Charlie to be seen at the teaching hospital in Gainesville, Florida.  They confirmed our worse fears.  There was no hope of saving Charlie.

My husband looked into a transplant but it was too late.  Charlie was to weak and too far gone for the operation.  On December 27, 2006 at 3:20 p.m. just  three days after the accident, our precious baby passed away….He was only 10 months old.

We later learned the overly affectionate behavior was  all part of the anti-freeze poisoning.  It gives the pet a feeling like being drunk and the small amount of anti-freeze left on Charlie coat even after being dried off was enough to poison him.

I can’t begin to describe the feelings of helplessness and guilt my husband and I felt.  Me for leaving the door open and Jim for not washing him off.  I made a promise on that day his death it would not be in vain.  I started calling and emailing every news media in my area.  Some one had to listen.  I finally got a call from Allie Gorman, health reported.  She agreed to hear my story.

I told her of the events leading up to Charlie’s passing and the lack of knowledge and dangers of snow globes.  She agreed to air Charlie’s story.  It was heart breaking to relive the events leading up to his death but I knew if even one pet could be saved from Charlie’s story it would be worth it.

I had contacted poison control, Humane Society of United States, ASPCA and anyone else I could thing of to inform them of anti-freeze used in snow globes. It was very surprising to discover how many people (vets and other humane societies) had no idea about the anti-freeze added to the contents of snow globes.  Our local newspaper also ran a full page on snow globes.

Each year I relive the nightmare, Christmas has never been the same but I make sure Charlie’s story is shared with hopes it can prevent another tragedy from happening.

George

George

That is how I started with my love for Ragdolls.  Still devastated from our loss I started looking for another long haired kitty when I discovered Charlie looked so much like a Ragdoll.  Of course in my search I found Sammie at a local shelter.  Sammie is a Maine Coon I just couldn’t resist!  Then one day a week before my husband’s birthday an ad for Ragdoll kitten was run in the newspaper classified.  I called Jim and asked if he want to “just look” at the kittens.  He agreed.  The rest is history. I selected a little boy, Georgie and Jim picked out Gracie. to join our family with Sammie, Stella, Tux, Frankie and Scoots. These little fur balls do not replace Charlie but the joy they have brought us is priceless!’

Georgie

Georgie

It’s hard to put into detail, I’m crying as I type.  Please print what you can.  I hope Charlie’s story will make a difference in someone life.

Regards,
Donna Smith

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About the Author ()

Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

Comments (38)

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  1. Deb says:

    My heart is breaking for you. Charlie was beautiful . Thank you for telling your story, I did not know that about the snowglobe water. There should be a warning on the package or something.
    I know how it feels to loose a kitty that way, we lost our kitty Maddie to weed spray on our neighbors lawn. The pain never stops, the “I wish I wouldn’t have….” goes on forever.
    Deb

  2. Marilia says:

    So sad history!!!
    Despite his pain, thank you for sharing this information, because here in Brazil the quality control of this type of product simply does not exist.
    Thank again.

  3. Coinneach Fitzpatrick says:

    Gods, poor baby. Thank you for passing this info on; I had no clue about antifreeze in snow globes (not that I have any, I’m not a holidays sort of person). I always figured it was just plain water.

  4. Nikki says:

    Thank you for sharing…fortunately, the snow globe that was broken for Christmas last year contained only water at my house…and glitter, which made for a sparkly floor, but that’s about all.

    I was in tears reading your story, and was thinking about my recently passing kitty, Cirrus, whose company I was able to enjoy for 17 long years. I know the loss is no less with a younger kitty though, having fostered kittens, and losing them to Fading Kitten Syndrome. Bless you and sweet Charlie, who is being kept company by my boys, Cirrus, Scotch & Soda, and the little FKS kittens, Tiniest Tiger, Tiger-Baby, Cheddar and Cupro! ~hugs~

  5. Susan Pike says:

    I shared your story on some other sites to warn pet parents. I know how hard telling your story had to be and I feel your pain but hope that it might have saved lives for it. I never knew and wouldn’t have even thought about it if not for your story. So thank you for being brave and strong enough to let us know about this danger. Bless Charlie and you Donna, your in my prayers.

  6. Eszti & Phineas says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. It must have been horrible; but by sharing this story and information with people you can be sure that Charlie did not die in vain and he is saving lives right now while you are keeping your promise. I’m certain that not many people are aware of the fact that snow globes do (or can) contain anti-freeze! They can also contain propylene-glycol which can lead to poisoning as well.

    Thank you for sharing this information and your Charlie’s story!

  7. Teresa Reid says:

    Am so terribly sorry for your loss. Thanks to you, many people who may not realize that snowglobes may be lethal to cats and dogs, now will be spared that same tragedy because of your willingness to educate people about this terrible but preventable occurrence. Thank you for your letting all of us know and I am going to pass this on to my vet right now so hopefully she can share this with all the clients. Know that Charlie is smiling down on your right now proud of all the good work you are doing to help others.

  8. Phoenix says:

    Thank you for honouring your beautiful Charlie by helping other cats. I’m so very sorry that you lost him in this way. I had no idea that snow globes contain antifreeze. This is such vital information for all who love cats. Nothing will make up for Charlie’s loss, but I’m certain other cats will live because you’re brave enough to tell his story.

  9. Betty says:

    Dear Donna –
    Thank you for your courage to speak through your pain. Keep talking. Your word spreads and saves lives; it ripples outward with an important message.
    I am so sorry that this happened to you. You must believe that neither you nor your husband are responsible for this senseless tragedy. My heart stopped at the sight of the word antifreeze. From there, I cried throughout. Your message is a very important one.
    Antifreeze is poisonous to more than just cats. Those snow globes are routinely & innocently purchased in stores that offer discount options of 99 cents to high end shops for close to $100 (or more). I am shocked, angry and disappointed. None of these globes (to my knowledge, which is pedestrian) lists ingredients. Any product being sold that has an inherent enticement to children and/or should have its ingredients listed on it. Any product containing any poisonous substance should have it prominently listed on a label. We see it all the time: “this product produced on machinery that also processes wheat’. Really?! The potential of wheat contamination is shown and there is no listing for antifreeze?! They should both be listed on their respective products.
    I have a big, old, heavy snow globe/music box. My children used to have those little plastic ones. Now I can’t throw the big one out as I don’t know what poisons are in it. It will never come out of its storage place under the basement stairs again. I will never purchase one of those toy snow globes again. It is all too risky. That something meant to be joyful and innocent has been made so sinister for the sake of the almighty buck is scary. Your experience is a lightbulb turned on for all of us. We must be vigilant and critical of what we bring into our homes – for the safety of our loved ones. It’s crazy.
    Everyday, I speak to a lot of pet owners and young parents. I will be telling your story to all of them. It is an important one.
    Hugs and whisker kisses to your entire family – you are all beautiful.

  10. Betty says:

    Great idea Teresa! I am seeing our vet in in a large NYC hospital in August and will also pass the information along.

    Donna & Jen, Can I have your permission to print and post your story on their community board?

  11. Judy says:

    THANK YOU! so much for the education. I hope your story will save some precious lives!

  12. Donna says:

    Thank you to everyone for your kind words. Please share this story. Charlie would have wanted it!
    Regards,
    Donna

  13. Tanya says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Charlie’s story. I can honestly say I did not know this.
    I am so sorry for your loss. Charlie was a Beautiful boy.
    Thanks again for this valuable information, I will share with all my friends.

  14. Terrence C. Kent says:

    Thank you so much for that riveting experience. I’m sorry you went through that but congratulate you on informing everyone and keeping the memory of your kittie alive. God bless. TK

  15. Alison Cavozzi says:

    My heart is breaking for you all. My Ziggy is 11 months old and the thought of losing him that way is unbearable. You are very brave to share your story and although you had him for such a short time, I an sure he was loved and adorded.
    We lost our sweet Ozzie a chinchilla Puss on the 1st Sept 2011 very suddenly after it was found his lungs were full of tumours and one ruptured that was why he was running around and pestering me for the lick of my yogurt spoon at 5.30pm and had passed by 7.30pm. We were and are still devastated as he was only 5 years old. This is how we came to get Ziggy who has truly helped ease the pain we like to think Ozzie sent him to us as he is so affectionate to us both.

  16. Cindy Loohoo says:

    Donna, Thank you so much for this warning. Your story is horrifying. I can honestly feel your pain and I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I like to think that you have saved some other kitty’s life in the name of George. All my best, Cindy

  17. Samantha says:

    I was looking for a kitten snowglobes for my daughter when I came across your story. We have three cats that are so special to us. We have decided to be a snow gloveless family. Sorry for your loss. Your story touched us

  18. I am so sorry to read this story, and will vouch that is is true. I am a snow globe artisan in the United States, and know that imported globes (specifically from Hong Kong and Asia) often contain antifreeze, which is toxic.

    The remaining U.S. manufacturer of snow globes, Snowglobecentral in Denver, Colorado, uses a food-grade liquid which is not toxic to animals or humans. There is still wisdom in being careful, since glass can break, but the liquid itself will not harm anyone. Check for the label, and know where the snowglobe is coming from.

    It is very kind of you to share this story to help other people protect their cats.

  19. Samis mum says:

    Thank you for telling us your story. I have seen a human dying of antifreeze poisoning and that was horrific. I expect that you have saved both feline and human lives by sharing your knowledge.

    My sympathies on your loss.

  20. Rebecca says:

    I was very lucky with my last cat than. We have had snow globes but they were put on a shelf where my Siamese, Russian blue Mix could not get to them from jumping or climbing. I was not sure were most of them were from but my mom recently brought up collecting snow globes and while we dont have any cats right now we will be picky were we get snowglobes and make sure they are not imports.

  21. Randy says:

    Oh my gosh, that’s so sad! I really feel bad for you, loosing Charlie. But I’m glad you could muster the strength to tell this story. I’m getting a little ragdoll myself soon and I’ll make sure never to get any snow globes! Or anything else anti-freeze for that mater. Thank you

  22. Randy,

    only *imported* snow globes use antifreeze.

    Made-In-America snow globes do not. Try “Snow Globe Central” for beautiful handmade snow globes which include food-grade liquid as a bonus.

    Imported Snow Globes ARE dangerous, but those made here in the U.S. do not include toxic liquid.

  23. i am so sorry to read the sad news. it made me very upset. i pray the charlie is well now in gods garden waiting till the day he sees you again

  24. Nancy Gorman says:

    what beautiful kitties! it’s so hard to lose a pet. I’m so glad that I just read this article about the snow globes. I’ve always loved snow globes but I love my kitty, skeeter, more. my snowglobes will now all be kept in a cabinet.

  25. Deidre says:

    Thank you for sending the email with this story in a link from Floppycats. Even though I have raised many cats throughout my entire life, I was not aware of the dangers of snow globes. You can be sure that the one snow globe I have in my home is now high up on a wall unit so that my Giorgio does not have access to it. What a horror! I once lost an 8 month old kitty to accidental rat poisoning in a similar situation (didn’t know until too late) which perhaps Jenny will let me share. It’s so hard to lose a beloved pet and not possible to replace them, but we go on loving even more precious babies. Thank you, again, for spreading the word on the dangers of snow globes . This reader has learned something new!

  26. Lisa says:

    Oh my gosh,totally devastating that must have been for you.Thank you for sharing this info.Who would of known.Im so sorry,your poor little sweety had to go to Heaven way too soon.My prayers are with you and your new kitty.Sincerly Lisa

  27. Patricia McDermott says:

    thank you for sharing your very heartbreaking story of your precious charlie. i had no idea either that snow globes had anti freeze in them. i thought it was distilled water! there needs to be MUCH better labeling on all this crap out there that can kill your animals.. your kids too. thank you for letting is know and also bringing it to the media.

  28. Patti Johnson says:

    Oh, Donna, how hard this tragedy must have been for you and your family! ***BIG HUGS*** Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Hopefully sharing your story will save the life (or lives) of other kittehs whose owners have snow globes. So devastating to lose a pet at any age but Charlie was still just a baby at 10 months. Poor little guy. RIP Charlie-kins. RIP dear boy. <3

    Big hugs and lots of blessings to you and your family…

    Patti & Pink Sugar <3

  29. Patti Johnson says:

    Jenny, thank you so much for sharing this tragic story with all of us again as this is definitely the season where deadly holiday decorations can create such health risks for our dear kittehs.

    Big hugs!

    Patti & Pink Sugar <3 <3 <3

  30. Teresa Reid says:

    So sorry this happened and sending this family lots of love and good wishes. They are doing a great thing by sharing their story, even though it is horribly sad, because it will let all of us know the dangers that these pretty things bring. I never knew this before reading this post last year and wouldn’t think that those held anything except harmless water. Think that I also heard they might have glycerine added to make the things inside the globe float very slowly. Hope that this Christmas will be a very happy one for the Smith’s and a safe one for all kitties everywhere.♥

  31. Lisa McGregor says:

    I’m very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this story. Your kitties are beautiful and I know they bring you comfort. I also just read another story like this one. If you cat or dog is ever exposed to anti-freeze, get them to the vet and tell them to use alcohol, yes vodka, to get the anti-freeze out of their system.

  32. Alora says:

    OH thank you soo much for this warning, and I came sooo close. As I was unpacking my ornaments one of my small globes had broken. I do store them in plastic bags when I put them away but I never thought. I took no special care when I cleaned it up (except for the glass) I had it on my counter, only dabbed the water off the floor and didn’t particularly worry about washing my hands after. I cry no to think how close I came to causing harm. Thank you again for sharing and I am so sorry for your loss

  33. MetalK says:

    So sorry you went through this but I want to thank you so much for sharing your story. You may have saved me the same pain. I had a snow globe on a shelf in the room with the litter boxes. Needless to say it is gone now. I had no idea and you may have saved our 8 fur babies lives. Thank you so much.

  34. Becca says:

    I am so sorry for your loss.
    Such a sad story.
    I will share your story.
    And our home will be forever globeless.

  35. Teresa Reid says:

    So sorry for your loss and all that you and your husband and poor Charlie suffered. You didn’t know. You are honoring Charlie so much by writing to let everyone know that these beautiful snow globes are deadly items just waiting for an accident to happen. You are saving so many lives just taking the time to alert everyone. I had two and they were shipped out immediately after reading your story the first time Jenny had it here.

    So happy that you were able to later adopt two other angels and know that Charlie is looking down on you and smiling to know you are once again happy. Thanks so much for writing your story though it was very painful. ♥♥♥

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