Is your upholstery a health danger to your cat? - Dr. Marty Becker


Is your upholstery a health danger to your cat?

Monday, Jul 29th, 2019 | By Dr. Marty Becker

Very old black cat resting on hammock

If your cat has hyperthyroidism, the cause may be flame retardants in the environment.

Feline hyperthyroidism, first diagnosed in 1979, is the most common endocrine disease in older cats. In the 40 years since that first case was diagnosed, the prevalence of the disease has risen dramatically. Scientists suspected a link to household flame retardants, introduced in the mid-1970s.

In a report published in American Chemical Society’s Environmental Science & Technology, researchers used silicone pet tags to measure the exposure of housecats to various flame retardants. (Silicone picks up volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds, and wristbands made of the material have been used in previous studies to monitor human exposure to environmental chemicals.)

Researchers recruited 78 housecats 7 years and older, half with hyperthyroidism and half without, and gave owners silicone tags to put on their pets. After the cats had worn the tags for seven days, researchers analyzed the silicone and found higher levels of flame-retardant chemicals from the cats with hyperthyroidism.

Higher exposures were associated with air freshener use, houses built since 2005, and cats who prefer to nap on upholstered furniture.

All that and more in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.