A veterinarian warns cat owners of a disease that can lead to the death of loved ones.
Dr. Georgia Miller spoke out when Fold Hill Foods, based in Old Leake, near Boston, said that cat food products from Sainsbury’s Hypoallergenic Recipe Range and Pets at Home Ava are being recalled as a precaution.
Certain Applaws products sold by Amazon and other pet food stores are also on the product recall list.
Dr. Miller saw two cats die after cats were diagnosed with pancytopenia – a very serious disease in cats that can be difficult to detect because the first signs are often cats giving up their food or appearing lethargic.
She said the eight-month-old kittens, Hermione and Rupert, were both fed food that has since been subject to the product recall.
Fold Hill says that “although diet has not been confirmed as the cause, we prefer to act now to ensure the absolute safety of cats”.
On the subject of matching items
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’ve ever worked on because when cats show symptoms there is very little we can do for them.
“Many of the cats that come into the house with it are very young, some just kittens, and they should have their whole lives ahead of them.”
Dr. Miller, who works as part of Willows’ offices with surgeries across Cheshire, added, “It is only until blood tests are done that we see that all major blood cell types are very low, and unfortunately at that point there is very little we can do.
“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.
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 said, “We saw Rupert and Hermione as our two additional children.
“They were totally part of our family, even though we only had them since Christmas. Our children are devastated.
“We’d waited until they were a little older to have pets – they’re ten and eight – knowing how affectionate they would be. Losing both of them 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 weird because he was grieving for his sister.”
But he too began with the same symptoms, and although the family rushed him to the Willows veterinary clinic, 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 something like this to you?
“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.
“It wasn’t until I found other owners on Twitter who had also given Applaws dry food to their cats that we saw 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 stroke her and be with her. We are heartbroken.”
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 Sainsbury’s dry food. I’m shocked that I could have given her a toxin 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 got worse quickly, blood ran out of her nose and mouth, and she 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 began putting the pieces together.
She said, “The vet treating Leia thought of her as soon as he heard the news. He quickly reported her to the RVC, which will help with her investigation. “
The RVC said it has reported 209 cases since this outbreak began, of which 72.5 percent 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 those affected.”
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 and we have therefore decided to recall the ranges of cat food we are making for the brands identified.
“We believe this is the safest course of action until an exact cause of the problem is identified.”
A Pets At Home spokesperson said, “We are aware of the recent surge in pancytopenia in cats identified by the Royal Veterinary College.
“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 precaution 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 investigation will be conducted from start to finish to determine the cause.”
The Food Standards Agency recently updated their product recall.
It now states: “Fold Hill Foods is taking precaution to recall several hypoallergenic cat food products for safety reasons.
“This product recall notice has been updated to include all best-before dates for Applaws products with location code GB218E5009.
“This is not due to the identification of additional safety concerns, but a voluntary action by the manufacturer to help consumers understand the affected products.”