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Letter to JAVMA Describes Long-Term Effects of Melamine in Recalled Food

Nobody with a pet will forget the horrible pet food recall that occurred in early 2007. Several brands of cat and dog food were tainted...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Dec 12th 2008


Nobody with a pet will forget the horrible pet food recall that occurred in early 2007. Several brands of cat and dog food were tainted with melamine and cyanuric acid (a byproduct of shoddy melamine production). The contaminants crystallized in pets’ kidneys, sickening and killing pets across the USA.

Veterinarians and scientists have generally believed (hoped may be a better word) that pets sickened but not killed by the tainted food would not experience long-term effects from the contaminants.

Sadly, a well-respected feline practitioner (Dr. Gary D. Norsworthy of San Antonio) wrote to the editor of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA) to describe his experiences with three cats. The letter was published in the October 15, 2008 issue of JAVMA.

The three cats in question had eaten contaminated food in 2007. They had been appropriately treated by veterinarians at the time of the recall. They developed kidney failure in 2008, almost certainly due to the contaminated food. Here is a quote from Dr. Norsworthy’s letter.

[Microscopic] examination of the kidneys [from one of the affected cats] revealed “occasional birefrengent tubular crystals similar to those described with melamine toxicity[.]”

And if that isn’t disturbing enough, here is Dr. Norsworthy’s next paragraph.

The manufacturer of the food refused to pay a claim for damages because it could not be proved conclusively that the cat’s [kidney] failure was related to the contaminated food that it had eaten about one year earlier.

It seems that the misery and heartache from the 2007 pet food recall simply won’t end.

About the photo: Sissy Sue was a victim of the pet food recall.