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I have a question that has been bothering me ever since I joined this forum back in 2012. I joined after I found out my 12 year old lutino cockatiel had cancer. I had never heard of this forum but ran across it when I was trying to research avian cancer. The question that has been plaguing me is this: did I cause her death? It makes me sick to think about. I had always fed her a mainly seed diet because I didn't know better. I just went to the pet store and got a "cockatiel mix", one of the better brands. She did love her Nutriberries, and would sometimes nibble on carrot strips, but her diet was by far mainly seeds. Once I started reading on the forum, I tried introducing new foods, but by that time it was too late. She died about 3 months after being diagnosed. Anyway, please understand. I just did not know, but it hurts to think my ignorance may have cost my beloved little bird her life.
 

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Correct me if I'm wrong!

I am by no means a cockatiel expert or a vet, but I did a little research and here's what I found:

Like with humans, cancer in birds is mostly hereditary. Not all breeders are super careful when breeding their birds to ensure that cancer lines are discontinued. Not to mention that cockatiels are a species of bird where cancers are not uncommon, especially later in life (like around their twenties)

A poor diet can cause obesity, which then in turn can increase the bird's chances of contracting cancer. HOWEVER, I wouldn't blame yourself for the death of your bird as 1. you didn't know and 2. the poor diet can only increase the chances of cancer, but doesn't actually cause it. It's more likely that your bird had cancer genes.

Like I said, though, I am NOT a vet or bird expert, I just did some research. Admins, moderators, and more experienced owners should correct me if I'm wrong.
 

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I very much doubt that you caused her cancer. A mostly seed diet is more likely to cause liver issues, like a fatty liver, than cancer. Did they ever tell you what kind of cancer it was? I don't think you in any way caused that at all. You gave her a great life and that's what matters the most.
 

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I'm not a vet but I don't think you could have caused her cancer just by feeding seeds.
Other things that could possibly contribute to an early death in a bird could be cooking with certain pots and utensils near the bird, and other airborne toxins like smoking near your bird or spraying for pests or using other aerosols like deodorants.

But don't forget that a lot of people disagree on the average natural life span of cockatiels. Don't forget what the word 'average' means. Just because the average lifespan of humans is currently around 80 doesn't mean that it's not natural to die a lot earlier or later from natural causes.
 

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If you understand the basics of cancer you will understand that there is no possible way for you to be responsible for it.

Cancer is an "abnormality" in the dna structure that causes let's say skin cells to reproduce fast without a reason actually. Cancer itself isn't actually an illness per say it is a way of creating life that got messed up and never stops so it eventually brings the body in distress as it can't co-op with it.

This was the simplest explanation possible that I've heard and its from a doctor to me.

So it was not your fault in any way.

Best regards, Noekeon & Kana!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
nagging question

Thank you SO much everyone for your kind and helpful comments! It has been really upsetting me; I should have asked sooner.
Roxy, I remember the vet said her kidneys, spleen and right ovary were involved and I think her liver, but I am not totally sure. I loved her and I hated to think I was responsible for her death. I know many cockatiels can live to twice her age.
She was never obese; in fact, the vet often told me she was a little underweight (which made me feel like a bad "Mom" too!)
Anyway, thanks for your support! I had been afraid to post this because of the answers I feared getting. Having been a member of the forum for some time now, I should have known better! I have rarely read any unkind or harsh comments on this forum.
 
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