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Cats: is mercury toxic?
Cats: is mercury toxic?

Mercury is a toxic substance for both humans and animals, but this is nothing new, just think of the reason why the old mercury thermometers have been withdrawn from the market and made illegal. But how mercury is toxic to cats?

The risk of mercury poisoning in cats it is mainly due to the intake of fish. Fish, especially in certain types such as shellfish, swordfish and tuna, contains a high concentration of mercury. But how does mercury get present in fish? To explain it, it is necessary to start from some basic notions.


What is mercury and where do we find it?

Mercury is a heavy metal present in nature that has a unique characteristic, that of being liquid at room temperature. It is used in paints as an anti-mold, in the preparation of pharmaceutical products, in the preparation of soda and other industrial products.

Mercury ends up in the air due to emissions from power plants, and when it rains it ends in lakes, rivers and seas. The bacteria present in these waters convert mercury into methyl mercury, a highly toxic substance that is easily absorbed by small organisms, such as algae and other aquatic plants. Small fish, therefore, ingest this substance when they feed on these plants, and large fish, in turn, ingest it by eating small fish. Reason why, predatory fish like sharks, swordfish and tuna, which cats also eat, contain higher levels of mercury than creatures directly exposed to the substance. This process is called Biomagnification.

Mercury poisoning in cats

Cats love fish, at least most of them, but giving them massive doses too often may not be a good idea. L' constant intake of mercury contained in fish such as tuna and salmon (main ingredients of many cat foods), in fact, can cause very serious health problems.

Symptoms of mercury poisoning in cats

The mercury poisoning in cats they are divided into acute and chronic. L' acute intoxication it is normally due to the massive intake of mercury due to accidental causes, such as the breakage of an old mercury thermometer. L' chronic intoxication instead of mercury is purely due to its accumulation through the constant intake over time of foods that contain high doses.

mercury thermometer
mercury thermometer

Possible symptoms of acute mercury poisoning in the cat:

  • Kidney failure
  • Vomiting and diarrhea with abdominal pain
  • Paralysis and paresis
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Death

Among the possible symptoms of chronic mercury poisoning in the cat instead we find some milder symptoms, and they are:

  • Tremors
  • Loss of coordination and balance
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blindness
  • Loss of sensation

It should be noted that mercury intoxication it is not reversible, so your symptoms tend to get worse steadily. Although mercury poisoning is not actually very common, it is necessary to limit the consumption of foods containing this substance as much as possible. This is because the mercury is not disposed of by the body in the cat which, on the contrary, accumulates it.