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Copper toxicity is not a common problem for cats, though it can still happen. Any heavy metal poisoning, including copper poisoning, can be extremely harmful and even deadly to a cat. Copper is a requirement in the diets of cats, but they have certain levels they are supposed to absorb each day, which is somewhere between 2.3 and 7 mg per pound of food eaten. The three major signs of copper toxicity in cats are lethargy, vomiting and jaundice.
Lethargic cats are sleepy and seemingly lazy. They will lose interest in most activities and may be sleeping a lot, even for a cat. Lethargy is the body's way of trying to get the animal to reduce activity so it can try to fix itself.
Cats are prone to vomiting as well as retching in an attempt to remove whatever foreign matter is disrupting their systems. In the case of copper toxicity, they will be unable to remove anything useful. Keep your cat hydrated and clean when it is vomiting.
Jaundice is a discoloration of the skin, whites of the eyes and other parts of the body. These portions of the body begin to turn yellow due to an excessive amount of bile pigments in the blood stream. Jaundice itself is not a problem, it is merely a symptom, similar to a runny nose or a cough. However, jaundice does indicate that the copper toxicity is becoming serious and if you have not sought medical attention, you should do so immediately.
- “Principles and practice of Veterinary Technology”: Margi Sirois EdD, MS, RVT: 2004
- copper cable image by Witold Krasowski from Fotolia.com