Heartbroken Huddersfield mum fears AVA cat food caused cat’s sudden death as Fold Hill Foods recalls products

A Huddersfield mom was heartbroken by the sudden death of her family cat – which she fears could be linked to a pet food product that was recently pulled off shelves.

Sarah Ibberson, 40, of Huddersfield, said her playful three-year-old tomcat Boris had always been in good health through May 30 this year.

After showing signs of malaise, Sarah took Boris to the vets for a series of tests – which found his blood cells were falling at a rapid pace.

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Boris passed away just six days after he was unwell – but the vet could not explain why his blood cells had decreased.

Two weeks later, Sarah received an email telling pet owners not to feed their cats special cat food products – including the cat food Boris had eaten.

It said there has been an outbreak of pancytopenia – a disease in which blood cell counts decrease rapidly and can often be fatal in cats – which could possibly be linked to specific cat food products.

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Adding two and two together, Sarah now believes that her beloved Boris’ sudden death was related to the AVA hairball liner she gave him.

Boris’ pet food, along with a number of other products, has since been recalled by Fold Hill Foods as a “precautionary measure” over safety concerns.

Speaking to Yorkshire Live, Sarah said, “Boris had just turned three and was very active. He never needed the vet or had any problems.

“He was still acting like a kitten, he was playful and completely insane. The day before he got sick, he’d done his usual antics and walked around.

Boris had just turned three when he died

“But the next day he didn’t come to us as usual, he was still sleepy.

“We didn’t think much about it and went out for lunch on Sundays. But when we got back he was still lethargic and hadn’t touched his food.

“We kept an eye on him and the next day, when he was still not feeling better, we took him to the vet.”

But the vet couldn’t see what was wrong with Boris other than that he had a high fever – and gave him medicine to cheer him up.

The next day, after Boris was still very sleepy and hadn’t eaten his food, they went back to the vets who held him for blood tests and further examinations.

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“I got a call to say that they found Boris had very low blood cell counts and that the oxygen was not right in his body,” Sarah said.

Boris stayed in the vet’s office, where he was kept in an oxygen chamber and treated further.

But on Thursday, Sarah was tragically told that Boris’ blood cells had continued to drop and he was in critical condition.

The vet advised Sarah and her family that Boris would have to undergo a blood transfusion, but said it may not help Boris get better.

So Sarah and her family made the devastating decision not to continue the blood transfusion and instead to say goodbye to Boris.

She said, “We did the design to say goodbye, it was too much for him. It was terrible, we didn’t want him to suffer any more or to have an operation that would not prolong his life.

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“So we went to the room where the vet had laid out a mattress and blanket for us and said goodbye.

“Within three minutes he was in my arms and he died. It was so sad. “

Although the family knew Boris’ blood cells had dropped, it remained a mystery what caused it.

“We just put it down to one of those terrible things that we didn’t understand,” she said.

But two weeks later, Sarah received an email urging cat owners not to feed their cats certain pet foods because they had been recalled – and may have been linked to a recent outbreak of pancytopenia.

Boris was a playful and energetic cat

Sarah had fed Boris AVA hairballs for most of her life – and had never had problems with eating – but soon began to fear that this could be linked to his tragic death.

She said, “It was like lightning. Everything that had happened made sense.”

Sarah also owns another cat named Cleo who also ate the same food, and after receiving the email she immediately stopped giving it to her.

“Fortunately, Cleo has shown no signs of malaise,” she said.

But Boris’s death left a big hole in the family.

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“He was an indoor cat so he was always with us. When I did laundry he would sit and watch me or when we watched TV he would sit with us, ”Sarah said.

“He always went to my youngest daughter’s room every morning, woke her up and sat with her for a few hours.

“Now Cleo has started it, it’s like mirroring Boris. She longs for him and really misses him.

“He was crazy and always ran upstairs in the house, he was weird, we miss him a lot.”

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The Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland and Defra have warned cat owners and advised them not to feed their cats specific cat food products.

The agency’s website said there had been over 130 cases of pancytopenia in cats since April 2021, a disease that can often be fatal in cats.

It is said that this current pancytopenia outbreak may be linked to certain cat food products. As a result, a product recall has been issued listing the affected products.

In a separate article, it said Fold Hill Foods has recalled several hypoallergenic cat food products as a precautionary measure for safety reasons.

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A government spokesman said: “We are working with the Royal Veterinary College, the Animal Plant and Health Agency and other government departments in all four UK countries, local authorities and the pet food supply chain to investigate a possible link between specific cat food products and pancytopenia Cats.

“At this point there is no definitive evidence to confirm a link.

“No unsafe cat food has been identified, but based on research to date, affected manufacturers and brand owners are taking precautionary measures to recall and withdraw cat food products that have been associated with affected cats.

“There is no evidence that this outbreak of pancytopenia in cats poses a risk to human health.”

What does Fold Hill Foods say

Ben Mankertz, General Manager of Fold Hill Foods Ltd: “We are alarmed and deeply saddened to hear of reports from the Food and Veterinary Authorities of some cat health problems.

“We are cat owners ourselves and understand how annoying and stressful this situation is for families and while diet has not been confirmed as a cause, we would prefer to act now to ensure the absolute safety of the cats.

“As one of the UK’s leading pet food manufacturers, the safety of your pet is our top priority and we have therefore decided to recall the ranges of cat food we make for the identified brands. We believe this is the safest course to take until one exact cause of the problem has been found. “

What PFMA Says

Michael Bellingham, PFMA Chief Executive, advised, “Pet health and wellbeing is a top priority and we fully support this recall.

“We understand the concern this will cause cat owners and we want to assure them that a thorough top-to-bottom investigation will be conducted to determine the cause.”

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