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One defining quality of a catalyst is that it is not used up during the course of a reaction. In the mechanism, it will be includes, but on both sides of a certain step. Also, is the activation energy for a specific reaction is lowered, it is likely there is a catalyst involved in the reaction.
It is also important to distinguish between a catalyst and an intermediate in that one (the catalyst) is consumed by a step but regenerated by a later step; the other (intermediate) is created by a step but consumed by a later step.
The catalyst is not created by the reaction but is also not present in the final balance equation because it gets canceled out. An intermediate is essentially the same except it is created by the reaction and is then used up and canceled out by the next mechanism. So it too is not in the final balanced equation.
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