Study Connects Kidney Failure in Cats to Chemicals in Recalled Pet Food

Researchers found that the chemicals are harmless alone, but result in rapid kidney failure when combined and ingested.

Posted: November 14 2007 2 a.m. EDT

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Two chemicals found in pet food recalled earlier this year — melamine and cyanuric acid — are relatively harmless alone but are deadly to cats if combined, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis.

Cats that were fed food tainted with melamine and cyanuric acid experienced extensive kidney failure within 12 hours. However, those who ate food containing just one of the chemicals did not experience any illness, the study revealed. In addition, fan-shaped crystals appeared in the urinary tracts of cats that ingested both chemicals, something not normally seen in healthy cats.

The pilot study was led by Birgit Puschner, a veterinary toxicologist at the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory at the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

“The results of this study demonstrate that a single oral exposure of cats to melamine and cyanuric acid can result in kidney failure,” Puschner said. “The study also provides information that will help veterinarians better diagnose the causes of kidney failure in cats.”

Melamine and cyanuric acid are widely believed to be the chemicals responsible for the death and illness of numerous cats and dogs during the massive pet food recall earlier this year.

The study is believed to be the first to report on the combined effects of the two chemicals in any animals. The researchers suggest further studies to determine the lowest dose of combined chemicals that results in kidney failure in order to provide an accurate assessment of contaminated food.

The study is published in the November issue of the “Journal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation.”

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Study Connects Kidney Failure in Cats to Chemicals in Recalled Pet Food

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Reader Comments

Richard    Miami, FL

11/28/2007 2:43:22 AM

I find this whole recall thing pretty scary. By the time a recall is declared, a lot of pets have already consumed the dangerous product. I thank God that my cats were not affected by this problem, but I am concerned that so many of the costly, "healthy" products were on the recall list. Next time, it might be the brand that I am using. And yes, there WILL be a next time. As progress marches forward, it is inevitable that some detrimental results cannot be recognized until some degree of damage has already been done. The price of progress is more than merely financial.

Deb    Pittsburgh, PA

11/15/2007 5:15:19 PM

I assumed that the manufacturers of the cat food was running quality testing on their products before they sold them to consumers, I was wrong. Hopefully this will give them a wakeup call.

Sara    Atlanta, GA

11/15/2007 4:48:45 AM


Angela    Hamburg, NY

11/14/2007 7:36:30 PM

This is just more horrible news. Why wasn't the pet food industry more closely watched before so things like this would never happen?

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