Minamata disease was first discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan, in 1956. It was caused by the release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation‘s chemical factory, which continued from 1932 to 1968. This highly toxic chemical bioaccumulated in shellfish and fish in Minamata Bay and the Shiranui Sea, which, when eaten by the local populace, resulted in mercury poisoning. While cat, dog, pig, and human deaths continued for 36 years, the government and company did little to prevent the pollution. The animal effects were severe enough in cats that they came to be named as having “dancing cat fever”.
As of March 2001, 2,265 victims had been officially recognised as having Minamata disease (1,784 of whom had died) and over 10,000 had received financial compensation from Chisso. By 2004, Chisso Corporation had paid $86 million in compensation, and in the same year was ordered to clean up its contamination. On March 29, 2010, a settlement was reached to compensate as-yet uncertified victims.
A lot of cats love fish, but feeding it as more than a very occasional treat could is not a good idea and could be harmful to your cat’s health. The primary fish used in cat food are salmon, tilefish (usually identifed as ocean whitefish on the label) and tuna. Each of them presents health issues, because fish can contain toxic doses of common water pollutants, heavy metals, and other contaminants. Mercury is considered one of the top ten chemicals of major public health concern by the World Health Organization.
Mercury in fish
Mercury ends up in the air from power plant emissions. When it rains, the mercury in the air falls into lakes, rivers and oceans. Bacteria in these bodies of water convert the mercury into methylmercury, a highly toxic form that gets easily absorbed into small organisms. Small fish ingest it when they eat those tiny organisms, and bigger fish eat the smaller fish. Because of this, larger fish, who are at the top of the predatory food chain, contain higher levels of mercury.
We should be constantly examining what we are feeding our cats. The oceans are getting more polluted, certainly not less polluted, and the fish coming out and processed is done in such quantities that I am sure contaminated fish is in many cans How many cats are showing signs? Who knows. But I fear the tip of the iceberg will soon be exposed. Love your cat, beware of the food you are feeding them.
There are countless examples of environmental effects on animals that later manifested in humans. The classic example is the “canary in the coal mine“. The idea of placing a canary or other warm blooded animal in a mine to detect carbon monoxide was first proposed by John Scott Haldane, in 1913 or later. Well into the 20th century, coal miners brought canaries into coal mines as an early-warning signal for toxic gases, primarily carbon monoxide. The birds, being more sensitive, would become sick before the miners, who would then have a chance to escape or put on protective respirators.
In Minamata Bay, Japan, cats developed “dancing cat fever” before humans were affected due to eating mercury-contaminated fish. Dogs were recognized as early as 1939 to be more susceptible to tonsil cancer if they were kept in crowded urban environments. Studies similarly found higher disease rates in animals exposed to tobacco smoke. Yushō disease was similarly discovered when poultry began dying at alarming rates due to polychlorinated biphenyl poisoning, although not before approximately 14,000 people were affected.
I wonder if PETA would object? How many birds died? There are no stats, did they really save lives, probably, and human life is more important than a canary. Someone should make a giant statue of a canary and place it at a mine site. What are your thoughts?
Did you ever notice the names of dogs versus cats is unique to say the least?
We have an animal named Fluffy so could you tell which category is this beast?
Fido is obvious and Kitty Poo is as easy as apple pie,
Uniqueness is out there but dog or cat it’s easy, oh my.
Do we name the cows as they graze in the meadow?
What about the deer in the forest, that Bambi doe?
Does the bear have a name, yes Smokey looking for a fire?
Even the pig is named, Baby, the bacon concept is dire.
We do not eat the animals we name, but beware those with no monocle.
You are run through the slaughterhouse like the biker on a cycle.
We have that favorite turkey, pardoned by the President,
Millions are slaughtered for Thanksgiving, while the pardoned pay no rent.
Would you fillet Nemo, or Dory from the fishing crops?
What about gorilla meat, hippo hips or zebra chops?
It is astounding to the veggie in me, to understand the fascination with pets for food.
Rabbit stew by the pound, ground up doggie on a bun, cat sirloins, oh my goodness, how rude.
Artificial meat is the new vogue and found in restaurants on the side list.
If we had to kill a pet, the crying that would happen from the children, would persist.
So tonight when you eat that steak with a potato or two,
Take a roundabout look and take the veggie view.