Last Updated on: June 20, 2014 by Ingrid King
Many health problems, in both cats and humans, chronic or otherwise, are caused by day-to-day exposure to toxic substances such as chemicals and other molecules that are foreign to the body. These toxins accumulate in the body over a period of time, often over many years. Research on the human side suggests that more than 75% of cancers are caused by diet and environmental factors. In addition, toxic exposure is a contributing factor to cardiovascular diseases, strokes, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Environmental pollutants stockpile in the body contributing to the chronic diseases.
Now consider how much smaller our cats are. It most likely takes a much smaller load of toxins for our pets to cause problems. Additionally, as cats groom themselves, it’s easy for them to ingest any environmental toxins they may have accidentally come in contact with on their fur and paws.
What are some common toxins your cats may be exposed to?
- Environmental toxins, both indoors and outdoors, such as polluted indoor air, chemical cleaning products, VOC’s from paint and carpeting, pesticides, and fertilizers
- Vaccines and other drugs, including flea, tick and heartworm preventive medication
- Highly processed foods that include ingredients that have been shown to cause allergies, such as corn, grains and other carbohydrates
How do toxins affect your cats?
The liver and kidney are the two organs that are primarily in charge of clearing toxins from the body. If they have to work harder than they were designed to by nature, they will eventually wear out.
Toxins, especially those in the environment and in the cat’s diet, can also cause allergic reactions ranging from itchy skin, runny eyes, and even asthma to vomiting, diarrhea and other intestinal issues. All of these reactions can be a sign that the cat’s body is no longer able to deal effectively with toxins.
How can you lower your cat’s toxic load?
- Keep your cat inside to avoid contact with pesticides and fertilizers.
- Avoid tracking pesticide and fertilizer residue into your house on your own shoes.
- Provide clean, fresh water free from heavy metals, flouride and other contaminants. Sadly, that rules out most municipal water.
- Don’t over-vaccinate your cats.
- Avoid prescription drugs, including the two most over-prescribed veterinary drugs, antibiotics and steroids.
- Switch to non-toxic, natural cleaning products, but avoid cleaners containing essential oils. Some essential oils are deadly to cats.
- Use chemical flea, tick and heartworm prevention products only if absolutely necessary.
- Feed a species-appropriate raw or canned diet.
Should you detox your cat?
While controversial, detoxing, or “cleanse” programs, have become popular in holistic human medicine in the past few decades. The goal of a cleanse is to detoxify the liver, kidney, gastro-intestinal and lymphatic system. If you practice cleansing, you’ve probably wondered whether this could benefit your cat as well. The answer is maybe. I believe the safer approach is to reduce the toxic load to your cat by following the suggestions above and prevent problems in the first place. If you believe that a cleanse or detox could benefit your cat, do not attempt to do this on your own. Consult with a holistic veterinarian on the appropriate products to use for a safe and healthy cleanse. Never allow your cat to fast.
Are you concerned about your cat’s toxic load? What are you doing to reduce toxins in your home?
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.
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