Dear and knowledgeable kitties:
A few months ago my 9 year old cat became very sick. Symptoms of it were mainly lethargy and decreased appetite. We took him to the vet where his blood work showed an elevated neutrophil count but his white blood cell count was normal. The vet prescribed a prophylactic antibiotic. Now my cat's immediate symptoms are gone, but he appears to have neurological issues, including balance issues and strangely dilated pupils. I'm worried he might have mercury poisoning as I feed him tuna regularly. Is there a diagnosis and treatment for this? Do you have any other ideas of what could be wrong with him?
Siouxsie:Our research shows that while an occasional tuna treat is fine, there area series of dangersFeeding your cat tuna regularly.
Tomás:Too much tuna can lead to vitamin E deficiency, leading to yellow fat disease, orsoapstone. Symptoms include loss of appetite, fever and hypersensitivity to touch due to inflammation and necrosis of fat under the skin.
Dahlie:Cats that eat a lot of tuna can develop other nutritional deficiencies, as most boneless fish lack calcium, sodium, iron, and copper, as well as several other vitamins.
Siouxsie:The high mercury content in tuna can also be dangerous. If he's fed tuna occasionally, it's not a big deal - but if you feed him tuna every day, you risk mercury poisoning.
Tomás:So what are the symptoms of mercury poisoning? According toMerck Veterinary Manual, Signs of mercury poisoning in cats can include overexcitement, irritability, incoordination, seizures, stiff hind legs, tremors, and blindness.
Dahlie:Mercury poisoning is quite rare in cats and humans. It is usually diagnosed through a blood test or a hair/fur test.
Siouxsie:If a diagnostic test indicates that your cat has mercury poisoning, a therapy called chelation may be done to remove the mercury from its body.
Tomás:So if your cat is suffering from mercury poisoning, it can be treated. But now let's talk about one of our favorite axioms, the horse not zebra theory. Basically, Horses, Not Zebras says that if you hear hooves outside your window (and you don't live in the African savanna), it's much more likely to be a herd of horses than a herd of zebras.
Dahlie:In short, the cause of your cat's symptoms is probably something much more common (horses) than mercury poisoning (zebras).
Siouxsie:If your cat started showing neurological symptoms only after starting antibiotic treatment, the symptoms could be a side effect of the medication.
Tomás:This is still a bit like the zebra, because very few antibiotics have neurological side effects, and even among those that do have known neurological side effects, the occurrence of these side effects is incredibly rare.
Dahlie:Fluoroquinolones are powerful antibiotics that are commonly prescribed for pets. The most commonly used fluoroquinolones are enrofloxacin (Baytril®), ciprofloxacin (also known as Cipro), orbifloxacin (Orbax®), and marbofloxacin (Zeniquin®).
Siouxsie:They are used to treat infections of the skin, bladder, ears, kidneys, lungs (pneumonia), and prostate. A liquid solution is also made in the form of ear drops to treat ear infections.
Tomás:In very rare cases, cats receiving high doses of Baytril® have developed severe and irreversible visual disturbances. However, researchers believe this side effect is unlikely at lower doses.
Dahlie:Mum says Thomas used to take Baytril® when he was a sick kitten at the shelter and he's fine! Sinéad has had to take it a few times for urinary tract infections and has never had any neurological issues from it.
Siouxsie:For more information about fluoroquinolone antibiotics and side effects, seethis pageon the website of the well-known veterinarian Dr. Eric Barchas.
Tomás: This page at vetinfo.comcontains a list of side effects of common veterinary antibiotics used in cats.
Dahlie:Jane, you really need to contact your vet and let them know your cat has these symptoms. Whether it's mercury, an antibiotic reaction, or something else entirely, only your veterinarian will be able to unravel the mystery.
Siouxsie:Please note that this information is by no means diagnostic. Even if we were licensed veterinarians, we would never make a diagnosis without seeing your cat and running diagnostic tests!
Tomás:However, we hope we have helped you to know what questions to ask your veterinarian when you bring your cat back to the clinic.
Dahlie:good luck Please let us know how things went.
Angie Bailey February 8, 2011 at 10:56 am
Interesting. I've never given my cats a ton of tuna, but sometimes I let them lick up the leftovers from the can. I think some people assume that feeling cat tuna is natural - that's very informative!
- (Video) Four signs that the cat has a worms. #shorts #cats
Julia on February 24, 2012 at 00:22
Hi, I just found out that a motel behind my house has dumped tons of fluorescent lights between my house and their yard... I've had to take my two cats to the vet in the last 3 weeks because they've lost their voices and their throats are swollen, they have been treated and are doing better, but one has not yet recovered its meow. Do you think it's related to mercury poisoning? I will be contacting her vet in the morning and also calling the city about illegal eviction. Please let me know if this is a possibility. thank you very much
wendy resgate March 3, 2015 at 12:41 pm
My cat craves tuna and has had it daily for some time, in addition to James Wellbeloved's dry food. I noticed that these days he sometimes prefers to climb on the back of a chair rather than jump, and sometimes he also resists being touched on his hind legs. It's going to be hard to break him out of the tuna habit as he talks a lot, but I think I'll have to cut it down to maybe one day a week and see if he gets more mobile. I chose tuna as an alternative to shrimp as it was expensive but could be more satisfying once a week.
Robert Dobie March 28, 2015 at 10:50 am
I was recently diagnosed with mercury poisoning, probably from eating 7-8 cans of tuna a week over a nine month period (I exercised vigorously but didn't want to include red meat in my diet, so tuna seemed like a good alternative.. . ). My symptoms were pretty strong. I'm almost recovered now (with partially numb hands and tinnitus that may never go away); but looking back 15 years ago, my health problems, which were also serious at the time, were caused by excessive consumption of tuna. At that time, I also regularly fed my cat tuna. All the cans I ate, I shared with my cat. And my cat also developed bizarre symptoms: within a few months, all of her teeth were loosening and falling out, and she was producing excessive amounts of saliva. The symptoms of methylmercury poisoning are varied. If you feed your cat a lot of tuna, the hooves are probably coming from a horse named Tuna.
Robert Dobie March 28, 2015 at 10:56 am(Video) 18 Human Food That Your Cat Should NEVER Eat! (TOXIC)
PS My own severe symptoms included seizures, abnormal heart rhythms, severe fatigue, fainting, irritability, shaky hands, red, burning hands and feet, pain in my lower jaw and teeth, and peeling skin on my hands and fingertips. All this just tuna! And my cat was only 2 years old when all her teeth fell out.
Sean Coulombe October 18, 2016 at 4:05 pm
After reading this article and searching for days, I would like to know where I can find someone in the Boston area who can help my cat resolve her mercury poisoning because me, her stupid owner... I couldn't resist giving her albacore tuna every times I ate it… without knowing the danger behind it…. I called poison control, I called animal poison control, I tried Angel Memorial…. Subway cat and I even tried calling around... the only thing I could do was activated charcoal... IDK when that was done he still doesn't seem like himself?
Ralf Stephan January 23, 2020 at 12:02 pm
Sadly, within 4 months I lost both healthy cats (12 and 9 years old). Symptoms were lethargy and weight loss with slight imbalance at the end. I fed them canned tuna (always mixed with canned chicken, canned cat food and baby vegetable puree (green beans, squash or butternut squash) for about two years. They never showed any signs of pain. Both died in about 3 months of her first weight loss symptoms. I had blood mercury levels in the youngest cat but the sample was taken two weeks after I stopped feeding canned tuna, the results were inconclusive. I'm upset I was never told of feeding them canned tuna after reporting what I was feeding them.
Trisha Muller February 11, 2020 at 6:40 pm
I started feeding my cat canned tuna all day every day for about three months and noticed that he was starting to get really bad scabs on his neck. Do you think he has mercury poisoning?(Video) Cat Scratch Disease | Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
What does mercury poisoning in cats look like? ›
Common neurologic manifestations include blindness, ataxia, incoordination, tremors, abnormal behavior, hypermetria, nystagmus (cats), and tonic-clonic convulsions. Advanced cases may be characterized by depression, anorexia, proprioceptive defects, total blindness, paralysis, with high mortality.How does mercury poisoning affect cats? ›
Signs of mercury poisoning in cats—loss of coordination and balance, difficulty walking—can mimic other illnesses, including thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency. Because mercury toxicity is not common in cats, it may not be the first thing a veterinarian suspects.What part of the body does mercury poisoning affect? ›
All Mercury is Toxic
Depending on the type and amount, exposures to mercury can damage the nervous system, kidneys, liver and immune system. Breathing mercury vapors can harm the nervous system, lungs and kidneys. Mercury vapors can pass easily from the lungs to the bloodstream.
In the rare case that your cat recently ingested a large amount of inorganic mercury, for example by ingesting a button cell battery, your vet can administer activated charcoal and other agents that can prevent absorption by the body.What are 2 symptoms of mercury accumulation? ›
- Skin rashes and dermatitis;
- Mood swings;
- Memory loss;
- Mental disturbances; and/or.
- Muscle weakness.
- difficulty sleeping.
- impaired sensations.
- muscle weakness and twitching.
- emotional changes (mood swings, irritability, nervousness)
- kidney damage.
- breathing difficulties.
Uncharacteristic sluggishness, unsteady gait, drooling, heavy breathing, diarrhea, seizures, and sudden bouts of vomiting are among the common clinical signs of feline poisoning (toxicosis). A cat owner who observes any of these signs will do an animal a huge favor by seeking emergency veterinary care.Can mercury poisoning be fixed? ›
There's no cure for mercury poisoning. The best way to treat mercury poisoning is to limit your exposure to the metal. If you eat a lot of mercury-containing seafood, a doctor may caution you to stop immediately.Is mercury poisoning permanent damage? ›
Elemental mercury, if inhaled, can cause permanent lung damage and potential brain damage. Inorganic mercury can damage kidneys and cause blood loss. Organic mercury can damage your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Large amounts of mercury or long-term exposure can lead to death if not treated.How do you test for mercury poisoning at home? ›
Is there a home test for mercury poisoning? Yes, home tests for mercury poisoning typically come with a quick test kit and full instructions. You can also book a qualified home nurse who will retrieve a blood sample to measure the level of mercury in your blood.
How does the body get rid of mercury? ›
Most of the metallic mercury will accumulate in your kidneys, but some metallic mercury can also accumulate in the brain. Most of the metallic mercury absorbed into the body eventually leaves in the urine and feces, while smaller amounts leave the body in the exhaled breath.What are the symptoms of heavy metals in the body? ›
- Abdominal pain.
- Chills or a low body temperature.
- Feeling weak.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- A scratchy feeling in your throat.
- Numbness or prickly sensation in your hands and feet.
Mainly, too much fish over a long period of time could lead to mercury poisoning in cats. "Modern cats may develop organic mercury poisoning over time if they primarily eat cat food containing tuna, mackerel, and other types of seafood," says Jenna Stregowski, RVT and Daily Paws' health and behavior editor.What is cat ataxia? ›
What Is Ataxia in Cats? Ataxia is the word used to describe a loss of coordination and balance that affects your cat's head, limbs, and/or torso. Ataxia is caused by decreased sensory function of the nervous system, which in turn can be caused by a wide range of diseases.Does tuna cat food have mercury? ›
Modern cats are at risk of developing organic mercury poisoning when fed large amounts of tuna or cat food containing tuna. Toxic effects can develop after prolonged ingestion of seafood due to a buildup of mercury in the body.Can mercury cause skin problems? ›
Prolonged exposure to elemental mercury may cause acrodynia (formerly referred to as Pink disease), but it is restricted to infants and young children. Dermal exposure can result in erythematous and peeling skin on the palms and soles.What is the most common form of exposure to mercury? ›
On this page, you can learn how people are most often exposed to:
- Elemental (metallic) mercury.
- Other mercury compounds.
As previously discussed, 2,3-dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) and N -acetyl-D,L-penicillamine have been used as chelating agents in the treatment of mercury toxicity. Use chelating agents if the patient is symptomatic, systemic absorption is anticipated, or increased blood or urine levels are present.Does canned tuna have lots of mercury? ›
A study by the Mercury Policy Project found a wide range of mercury levels in both light and white tuna from government-sponsored school lunch programs. Some of the canned albacore/white tuna tested had almost four times the average level of mercury reported by the Food and Drug Administration.What color is mercury poison? ›
At room temperature, exposed elemental mercury can evaporate to become an invisible, odorless toxic vapor. If heated, it is a colorless, odorless gas.
How do you check for mercury poisoning? ›
The most commonly accepted methods of assessing mercury exposure are to test urine or blood. Both tests usually measure levels of total mercury (elemental, inorganic and organic). Elevated mercury in urine usually indicates exposure to an elemental or inorganic source of mercury, such as from a job that uses mercury.Can cats get mercury poisoning from canned tuna? ›
Cats can be addicted to tuna, whether it's packed for cats or for humans. Some tuna now and then probably won't hurt. But a steady diet of tuna prepared for humans can lead to malnutrition because it won't have all the nutrients a cat needs. And, too much tuna can cause mercury poisoning.How long does Toxicity take to show in cats? ›
Once a cat ingests or comes in contact with a toxin, symptoms may not show up right away. Some toxins may take 3 to 4 days to show any effects. The types of symptoms a cat will exhibit will depend on the toxin she has been exposed to.What are common poisons for cats? ›
- De-icing salts (which pets may walk through, then lick from their pads)
- Dog flea and tick medication (pills, collars, spoot-on flea treatments, sprays, shampoos)
- Insect and rodent bait.
A blood test to confirm the cat's calcium levels may be done to confirm poisons specific to blood calcium levels. A urinalysis will determine if the cat has ingested antifreeze products containing ethylene glycol. If possible, a fecal or vomit sample should be obtained and examined for poisonous substance.Does mercury poisoning go away on its own? ›
There's no cure for mercury poisoning. The best way to treat mercury poisoning is to limit your exposure to the metal. If you eat a lot of mercury-containing seafood, a doctor may caution you to stop immediately.Can mercury poisoning be treated? ›
A large overdose of inorganic mercury may cause massive blood and fluid loss, kidney failure, and likely death. Chronic brain damage from organic mercury poisoning is difficult to treat. Some people never recover, but there has been some success in people who receive chelation treatment.How common is mercury poisoning? ›
In the United States, a 2013 report documented 1300 single mercury exposures, and only 24 had moderate to major effects. However, internationally, there are much higher rates of exposure, including mercury mining in China, small-scale gold mining, and food contaminated with mercury.How do you treat mercury poisoning at home? ›
- Eating more fiber. Your body naturally gets rid of mercury and other potentially toxic substances through feces. ...
- Drinking more water. ...
- Avoiding exposure.
So, can cats eat tuna? Tuna is not nutritionally balanced and should not be fed as a large part of your cat's meal plan. Even giving canned tuna as a treat can lead to health issues, especially if it is given in large amounts or frequently.
How much tuna can a cat eat without getting mercury poisoning? ›
Just one teaspoon of tuna given to your cat a few times a week is sufficient. Opt for tuna in water that contains no additives or chemicals.