Can cats get mad cow disease?
According to a report from CNN, no animals—except cats—ever contracted mad cow disease and, according to the news service, cats in the United Kingdom are susceptible to a feline version of the disease.
The best thing you can do is learn to read labels thoroughly and discuss your concerns with your veterinarian or another pet nutrition expert—or even call the manufacturer. Look, also, for the AAFCO statement on the label.
Mad cow disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE,
is a neurological disorder that primarily affects cattle. It is caused by an infection that attacks the cow’s central nervous system. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), mad cow disease likely originated because of the practice of feeding the cattle infected meat and bone meal. Mad cow disease was of particular concern in the 1990s. In 1993, the CDC confirmed nearly 1,000 new cases of the disease every week in the United Kingdom.
Although red meat is a staple in cats’ normal diet, the present method of mechanically stripping the meat from the bones allows for particles of spinal tissue and other suspect tissues to remain in the meat. In addition, the meat from “Downer Cows,” (those who can’t stand up and are at highest risk of having BSE) is prohibited in school lunches, but still fair game for cat food.
It can also be present in meat and bone meal and meat by-products.
The FDA regulates pet food for America’s more than 177 million dogs, cats, and horses and, in April 2009, the FDA took additional steps to make sure the food in the U.S. stays safe. Certain high-risk cow parts are not allowed to be used to make any animal feed, including pet food. This prevents all animal feed from being accidentally contaminated with the abnormal prion. High-risk cow parts are those parts of the cow that have the highest chance of being infected with the abnormal prion, such as the brains and spinal cords from cows that are 30 months of age or older.