While indoor cats may be safe from the dangers outdoors, they're still not completely safe from harm.
Keeping a beloved cat at home may keep it safe from injury or contagious diseases. However, a seemingly safe household poses some health risks for cats as well. A recent study has found that indoor cats are exposed to harmful chemicals that had turned into dust. These chemicals are usually found in common household items like electronics and furniture.
Researchers affiliated with the University of Sweden conducted this study to find a correlation between a cat's health and the contaminants present in household dust.
The researchers kept an eye out for brominated flame retardants for this particular study. These chemicals keep items from easily catching fire. However, some brominated flame retardants are endocrine disruptors, and can seriously damage a cat's health. In a past study, the same researchers found brominated flame retardants in the blood of cats with feline hyperthyrodism. In comparison, healthy cats had a much lower amount of brominated flame retardants in their blood.
For this study, the researchers wanted to find out if indoor cats are more exposed to brominated flame retardants. 17 Swedish households with cats participated in the study. To begin the experiment, the researchers took cat blood and dust samples from the same household at the same time. “By taking paired samples, we have greater insight into the environment that the cats live in,” says Jana Weiss, a researcher on the study. The researchers took dust samples from inside the home, since that's where the cats spent most of their time.
The findings of the study are not great news for cats that spend much of their time indoors. The researchers found so many sources of brominated flame retardants all over the houses. Household items like furniture, electronics, and even textiles might contain this substance.
Authorities have banned many kinds of brominated flame retardants for being health hazards. However, these chemicals still persist in many common items to this day. Eventually, brominated flame retardants turn to dust, which then scatters into the household. Cats and even children are thus exposed to these harmful chemicals.
The results of the testing on the blood and dust samples confirmed that brominated flame retardants in cats' blood are from household dust.
When a cat's thyroid glands become enlarged, they release more of two particular thyroid hormones. An increase of these thyroid hormones can cause hyperthyroidism in cats. Older cats are particularly susceptible to developing this illness.
Feline hyperthyroidism causes a lot of distressing symptoms. Cats with hyperthyroidism have an increased appetite, but they also lose weight. They drink excessive water and urinate more. They are hyperactive, appear unkempt, and shed more fur. Panting, diarrhea, and vomiting are also symptoms.
It's a bit unsettling that something as mundane as dust can cause such a distressing condition in beloved pets. However, perhaps we'll now have more motivation to vacuum our floors and furniture more regularly. Vacuuming may distress indoor cats, but they'll thank you for it in their later years.
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