New research suggests that there may be a link between higher levels of certain chemicals in the environment and higher levels of hyperthyroidism in pet cats as they age.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, are a family of more than 3,000 structures of highly fluorinated chemicals used in industrial processes and consumer products, such as protective coatings for carpets, furniture and apparel, paper coatings, insecticide formulations, and other items.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, PFAS can be found in:
- Food packaged in PFAS-containing materials, processed with equipment that used PFAS, or grown in PFAS-contaminated soil or water.
- Commercial household products, including stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams (a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where firefighting training occurs).
- Workplace, including production facilities or industries (e.g., chrome plating, electronics manufacturing or oil recovery) that use PFAS.
- Drinking water, typically localized and associated with a specific facility (e.g., manufacturer, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, firefighter training facility).
- Living organisms, including fish, animals and humans, where PFAS have the ability to build up and persist over time.
And, according to a new study published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, there may be a link between these chemicals and the endocrine disorder hyperthyroidism in cats as they reach their senior years.
Hyperthyroidism is a common glandular disorder in cats. It is most frequently caused by an excessive concentration of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, increased appetite, excessive thirst, frequent urination, and vomiting. The average age at onset is between 12 and 13 years.
The study involved analyses of blood samples from older cats in Northern California. Investigators examined the animals’ exposures to PFAS and compared PFAS levels between cats with and without hyperthyroidism.
The study is only preliminary, but the results indicate a possible link between PFAS and cat hyperthyroidism and definitely warrant further study.