Written by Donna (Originally published on June 15, 2012. Donna writes me EVERY year, reminding me to repost this in Charlie’s honor.)
This is a difficult story to write, but every year before the holidays, I warn 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 in hopes you will publish it on Floppycats.
This is the story of Charlie. We adopted him in May 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.
As Charlie adjusted to his new forever home, it became apparent that he was a very smart kitty, always ready to play. But always ready to love and be loved.
He shared his home with his brothers and sisters and had a great time. He was growing and developing into a magnificent animal.
His fur grew longer, his eyes turned a beautiful blue-gray, and his tail was the envy of all the kitties. Thick, bushy, and fabulous! Charlie had the personality and looks you can only imagine. He was my boy.
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.
However, we have a couple of kitties that have acquired door-opening skills. I didn’t want to disturb my kittie, so I walked by and headed for work.
Later in the day, I received a call from my husband saying I would not be too happy because Charlie had jumped 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 to happen when you have cats.
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Jim, my husband, had cleaned up the mess and dried Charlie off. I work retail, so I got home after 6:00 p.m. that evening and noticed Charlie behaving strangely. His big fluffy tail was down, and he seemed not to be feeling well.
I asked Jim how he had been throughout the day. Jim said Charlie had joined him for a nap earlier. He 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 it likely could have been salmonella, and Charlie had a slightly upset stomach.
I am never satisfied with an assumption and hit the computer to further my research. To my horror, I discovered snowglobes contain ethylene glycol (anti-freeze) to prevent freezing during shipping. Most are imported from China.
Charlie had anti-freeze poisoning! Just a tiny 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 on how to treat Charlie. Then, without experience 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 be an eternity, Charlie was tested for anti-freeze poison. The results were positive; unfortunately, too much time had passed, and his kidneys had started crystallizing. I was devastated and asked them to treat him with the 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. Again, he was treated, but his chances for survival were slim.
My regular vet was open the following day, and I brought Charlie in. Dr. Sleeper arranged for Charlie to be seen at the teaching hospital in Gainesville, Florida. They confirmed our worst fears. There was no hope of saving Charlie.
My husband looked into a transplant, but it was too late. Charlie was too 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 that overly affectionate behavior was all part of the anti-freeze poisoning. It gives the pet a feeling of being drunk, and the small amount of anti-freeze left on Charlie’s coat, even after being dried off, was enough to poison him. I can’t begin to describe the helplessness and guilt my husband and I felt.
Me for leaving the door open and Jim for not washing him off. I promised it would not be in vain on that day of his death. I started calling and emailing every news media in my area. Someone 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. Finally, she agreed to air Charlie’s story. It was heartbreaking 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, the Humane Society of United States, ASPCA, and anyone else I could think of to inform them of the anti-freeze used in snowglobes. It was 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. Still, I make sure Charlie’s story is shared with hopes it can prevent another tragedy from happening.
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’s life.
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,