Staffordshire vet warns of ‘devastating disease’ killing cats and kittens

A Staffordshire veterinarian warns owners of “devastating disease” that kills cats and kittens across the country – with a heartbroken family losing two pets to the disease.

Willows Veterinary Group, which has six practices in the county, recently saw two kittens die of pancytopenia.

Dr. The company’s Georgia Miller announced that the eight-month-old pets were being fed food, which was subsequently recalled.

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The manufacturer said, “Although diet has not been confirmed to be the cause, we would prefer to act now to ensure the absolute safety of cats.”

Dr. Miller said, “Nobody knows for sure what caused this, but after the first case came in and she sadly died, we contacted the Royal Veterinary College and they reported that other cats and kittens had the same symptoms.

“That was before the food was recalled. This is one of the saddest cases I have ever worked on because when cats show symptoms there is very little we can do for them. Many of the cats that come in with it are very.” young, some just kittens, and they should have their whole life ahead of them. “

Pancytopenia is a very serious condition in cats, but it can be difficult to spot because the first signs are often cats giving up their food or appearing lethargic.

Dr. Miller added, “It’s only after the blood tests that we see that all of the major blood cell types are very low, and unfortunately there is very little we can do at this point.

“Some vets try blood transfusions and steroids, but cat blood is not easy to find because, unlike dogs, there is no national blood bank. Even with intensive treatment and hospitalization, the prognosis is very poor. “

The devastated owner of the two kittens, Alison Holmes, said one of the first signs something was wrong was when Hermione started bleeding from one of her ears.

Hermione and Rupert.

She took Hermione to the vets and she was prescribed antibiotics in case it was an ear infection. But Hermione was starting to deteriorate.

Ms. Holmes from Hale said, “We saw Rupert and Hermione as our two additional children.

“They were an absolute part of our family, even though we only had them since Christmas. Our children are devastated. We waited until they were a little older to have pets – they are 10 and eight years old – knowing how affectionate they are. Losing them both in a matter of days was heartbreaking.

“Telling the kids (Zachary and Sophia) about it was one of the worst things I have ever done. We were also very concerned about Rupert and how he would get along without her. At first we thought he was acting strange because he was mourning his sister. “

But he too began with the same symptoms, and although the family rushed him to the Willows Veterinary Clinic in Hartford, he too had to be euthanized.

Ms. Holmes added: “It was so quick – just a few days between losing the two. The children are heartbroken. How can we explain such a thing to them?

“We were so careful. They were indoor cats, we took great care to keep only non-toxic cleaning products in the house, and we did our research and bought them what we thought would be best for them. Only when I found other owners on Twitter who had also fed their cats Applaws dry food did we see a link. “

Ms. Holmes is one of several owners trying to raise awareness.

She added, “I keep thinking that there could be owners who are unaware of the recall and may have a bag that they haven’t opened yet. If we could only save a cat from what Hermione and Rupert went through, it would be worth it. “

Owners across the country have reported similar stories.

Alice Pardoe’s beloved Ava was a healthy, happy 18 month old cat who was never sick until she stopped eating her usual favorite food – Ava Dry Hairball Food.

Ms. Pardoe said, “It was her favorite but she suddenly stopped eating, the vets confirmed a fever, blood tests showed a low white blood count and next to no platelets.

“She was too weak to have a blood transfusion. We didn’t know the cause, unfortunately she died on Friday after she stopped eating. We were very lucky to see her in the morning to pet her and be with her. We are heartbroken.”

Alice Pardoe’s cat Ava.

Michelle Alvarez’s lovely cat Leia was a very healthy eight year old Aussie Mist.

She said, “She has never been sick and suddenly dying so quickly came as a shock to my family. She was on the Sainsbury’s dry food. I am shocked that I could have fed her a poison that led to her death. “

Ms. Alvarez took Leia to the vets after she stopped eating, where she was vaccinated against the disease and sent home. But she quickly deteriorated, blood leaked from her nose and mouth, and was taken to a veterinary clinic for IV fluids and oxygen. She couldn’t be saved.

“We were glad they provided them with oxygen until we got there to say goodbye. When she saw us, she recognized us with a mumbling meow, not like she normally would. We hugged and kissed her so often because we couldn’t believe she was no longer with us. “

Like many owners, Ms. Alvaraz did not know what caused Leia’s sudden illness until the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) began putting the pieces together.

“The vet who treated Leia thought of her as soon as he heard the news. He quickly reported her to the RVC, which will help with her investigation. “

Across the UK, cats have died of pancytopenia.  Michelle Alvarez with her cat Leia.

Michelle Alvarez with her cat Leia.

The RVC said it has reported 209 cases since this outbreak began, of which 72.5% have died, but estimates that this is only a small percentage of the actual cases.

A spokesman said: “We can confirm that we are aware of a number of cases of fatal pancytopenia in cats in the UK.

“After seeing an increase in cats with pancytopenia (a severe decrease in all major types of blood cells) in May, we collected data from UK vets on these affected cats. Based on what we know so far, the only aspect of these cases that formed a consistent pattern was the diet of the individuals concerned. “

Recalled foods include certain brands and batches of Applaws, AVA, and Sainsbury’s cat foods. The affected bags have been traced back to the pet food company Fold Hill Foods.

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

“As cat owners we know exactly how 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 cats’ absolute safety. As one of the UK’s leading pet food manufacturers, the safety of your pet is our top priority. We have therefore decided to recall the ranges of cat food that we produce for the identified brands. We believe that this is the safest course of action until an exact cause of the problem has been found. “

A Pets At Home spokesperson said, “We are aware of the recent surge in pancytopenia in cats identified by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). The health and well-being of pets are our top priority, which is why we support the product recall of the manufacturer of the dry food series AVA and Applaws. This is a precautionary measure while further investigation is in progress, and we are working closely with the Food Standards Agency, RVC, and wider industry to determine the cause.

“In the meantime, our market colleagues are there to help customers choose a suitable alternative.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson added: “We are unwilling to take any risks regarding the safety of our products, so we are voluntarily recalling these products and asking customers not to use them and to return the packs in full to the nearest Sainsbury’s store . ” Refund. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause. “

On behalf of the Pet Food Manufacturers Association, Chairman Michael Bellingham added, “The health and wellbeing of pets 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 thorough investigation will be carried out to determine the cause. ”

The Food Standards Agency recently updated their product recall. It now reads: “Fold Hill Foods is taking precaution to recall several hypoallergenic cat food products due to safety concerns. This product recall information has been updated to include all best-before dates for Applaws products with location code GB218E5009. This is not a result of an additional safety concern, it is one voluntary measure by the manufacturer to make it easier for consumers to understand the products concerned. “

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