Assessment of melamine and cyanuric acid toxicity in cats

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345 Scopus citations


The major pet food recall associated with acute renal failure in dogs and cats focused initially on melamine as the suspect toxicant. In the course of the investigation, cyanuric acid was identified in addition to melamine in the offending food. The purpose of this study was to characterize the toxicity potential of melamine, cyanuric acid, and a combination of melamine and cyanuric acid in cats. In this pilot study, melamine was added to the diet of 2 cats at 0.5% and 1%, respectively. Cyanuric acid was added to the diet of 1 cat at increasing doses of 0.2%, 0.5%, and 1% over the course of 10 days. Melamine and cyanuric acid were administered together at 0%, 0.2%, 0.5%, and 1% to 1 cat per dose group. No effect on renal function was observed in cats fed with melamine or cyanuric acid alone. Cats dosed with a combination were euthanized at 48 hours after dosing because of acute renal failure. Urine and touch impressions of kidneys from all cats dosed with the combination revealed the presence of fan-shaped, birefringent crystals. Histopathologic findings were limited to the kidneys and included crystals primarily within tubules of the distal nephron, severe renal interstitial edema, and hemorrhage at the corticomedullary junction. The kidneys contained estimated melamine concentrations of 496 to 734 mg/kg wet weight and estimated cyanuric acid concentrations of 487 to 690 mg/kg wet weight. The results demonstrate that the combination of melamine and cyanuric acid is responsible for acute renal failure in cats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)616-624
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Cats
  • Cyanuric acid
  • Feline
  • Kidney
  • Melamine
  • Nephropathy
  • Pet food recall
  • Toxicosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • veterinary(all)


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