Melamine Cat Poisoning Mystery

Back in March 2007, our two cats, Swee’Pea (aged around 11) and Baloney (13?) stopped eating, and curled up into listless balls, each refusing to move. I noticed a pet food recall on a local website. Alarmed, I made an appointment with our vet. She thought I was over-reacting. “If their food isn’t on the recall list, then I wouldn’t worry about it.”
She examined them and took samples. I said they seemed as though they had been poisoned. She suggested maybe they had eaten something bad, but I insisted that wasn’t possible. These cats were so spoiled, I told her, they’d never deign to eat anything but their food. The fact they were both sick worried me the most, I told her. She said it could be a virus. I agreed that yes, the cats may have caught a virus, but the fact that thousands of cats would die in the weeks following still made me suspect there was a correlation, if only for the fact these cats had never been sick before, and were up to date on all shots, and never around other cats.
Days passed and more pet foods were added to the recall list. We had been feeding the cats Fancy Feast (with gravy) and a fancier Fancy Feast (if that’s even possible) called Elegant Medleys. I went on the internet and bought some fresh raw cat food but the cats refused it. Baloney, who at one point could easily have been termed obese, turned into a former shell of himself, a long, flat cat of skin and bones that refused to eat.
The vet said the tests came back negative (I’m not sure what these tests were, just enzyme counters and such that would signify illness). She administered water shots to both cats for a week and this improved their spirits immensely. They started walking about a bit (albeit stiffly) and nibbling some dry food. The vet offered us a brand of wet cat food she sells at her clinic, and we crossed our fingers and waited.

(Baloney No Paw)

Several friends and family members lost pets in the spring of 2007. Baloney was doing better, but Swee’Pea now had a strange hunch in her back (like a permanently scared cat) and more or less started resembling a rabbit in the way she walked. But she was eating and purring so we were happy to have her alive.

Sweep’s strange gait worsened, and again in August she curled up into a ball and stopped moving around and eating. One morning I saw her dragging her back two legs behind her, useless. I called the vet and took her in. Once again, the vet could find nothing, but offered to send her to a larger animal hospital for more tests. I looked at the poor Sweep, terrified as the vet held her down on the table. I said no, I would just take her home.
When I was a kid, we had a cat that apparently was hit by a car and appeared at our doorstep, dragging its back legs behind it. We happily put the cat in a box and took the box with us everywhere, and slowly the cat learned to walk again. With that in mind, I put Sweep in a pillowed basket and carted her around the house with me; brought her food and water, took her to the litterbox. She seemed surprised at first by this new system, but gradually learned to adapt. She slowly started dragging herself into the litterbox and then back into her basket, at which point she’d be thrilled to be placed next to John’s computer or on Isa’s bed.
Over time, she has learned to walk again, although it certainly does look more like a drunken stumbly swagger than a stealthy cat walk. She is happy, she eats (too much!) and she sleeps on top of John most nights. But she certainly has never been the same since March 2007. Neither has Baloney. He’s happy too, but a thin shell of himself, no matter how much he eats, he remains gaunt. Still, we are glad to have them with us. And furious if humans are to blame for their conditions.

(also if anyone has any information they’d like to share on this feel free to contact me at berniejubilee at

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