In our household, we have three cats (it's probably one too many, but one of them was a late addition charity case). Kaitlin has lots of attitude, called tortitude, our vet told us, because she's a tortoise shell. Go figure. Very needy for attention, she also knows when you're sad, and will come cuddle with you. Scooby is the oldest, and the most energetic of the three. She has such bad arthritis in her arms that instead of jumping onto chairs, she pulls herself up with her muscles. It's something to watch. Yet, like I said, she's the most active and spends most of the day outside. Baby girl is the Angelina Jolie of cats. Though she's scared of her own shadow, skittering around the house at the slightest sound, she belongs in pet food commercials. She'd put all those cat models to shame with her good looks.
Beloved as they are, two of our three cats have hyperthyroidism and have to be treated with medicine morning and night. Most likely, the only reason the third cat doesn't have it is because we're a bit behind on her vet appointment. To treat their hyperthyroidism, we have to stick this stuff in their ears that absorbs through the skin. And, it also absorbs through human skin, so to apply it, you put on a glove (we actually use the finger protectors that are normally used like Bandaids for finger cuts and by chefs if they have a nick). Then, you measure out the medicine for one cat, find the cat and do so in a way that does not alert the cat to what you're about to do and cause it to run off - highly likely, and then stick your finger with medicine in their ear - and then rinse and repeat for the second cat.
Where am I going with all this?
Well, it turns out that two of the causes of hyperthyroidism in cats are things we've talked about elsewhere - chemical fire retardants and BPA.
Those chemical fire retardants that hide in furniture - couches, mattresses, cushions - are also linked to thyroid disease in cats, according to studies in the Journal of Toxicology & Environmental Health and Environmental Science & Technology. Cats are found to have higher levels of certain chemical fire retardants - PBDEs - than humans, possibly because they are lower to the ground, closer to the particulate, and lying on the ground and then licking their fur. A study in Sweden found that levels of PBDE were 50 times higher in cats than humans, and a similar study in the US found that levels of PBDE were 20-100 times higher.
While it may be too late for our three cats, my hope is that as we clean out the older chemical-laden furniture in our home, the story will be brighter for future pets.
And, wait, what about BPA? BPA can be found in the linings of many cans, including cat cans. While finding BPA-free items is effort-intensive enough for humans, your best bet is to go for smaller cans, which are less likely to contain BPA. However, it's worth acknowledging this leads to a greater environmental impact from larger cans. Always, the trade-offs.
1. Environmental Science & Technology, March 25, 2015, 49(8), p 5107-5114
2. Lisa A Pierson, DVM. What are the causes of hyperthyroidism. Cat Info. http://catinfo.org/feline-hyperthyroidism/#What_are_the_causes_of_hyperthyroidism_
3. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, July 2012, (63)1, p 161-168
4. Environmental Science & Technology, September 15, 2007, (41)18, p 6350-6356
5. Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health A, 2012; 75(4):201-12
6. Dr Karen Becker. Do You Feed Your Kitty This Favorite Food? 2 Reasons to Stop It Today. http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2016/03/14/cat-hyperthyroidism-pbdes.aspx