Friday, July 2, 2021

Death toll mounts to 284 for cats suffering from pancytopenia linked to cat food

UNITED KINGDOM-NEWS AND COMMENT: is reported today that some 443 domestic cats have been recently diagnosed with pancytopenia of which 284 have sadly died. You may have heard and indeed you should have heard about the UK pet food recall of a long list of dry cat foods sold at Sainsbury's and Pets at Home. The Pets at Home own brand food AVA is affected. If you've not read about this then please click on this link where you can find further links to the foods that have been recalled.

Sushi died of pancytopenia after eating Pets at Home AVA dry cat food. She was actually euthanized at a vets. Photo: Mrs Kenny.
Sushi died of pancytopenia after eating Pets at Home AVA dry cat food. She was actually euthanized at a vets. Photo: Mrs Kenny.

This is an update and it is a depressing one. Pancytopenia is a killer. It is a disease that causes low blood counts of red cells, white cells and platelets. It appears that the disease affects the bone marrow where the cells are created. Pancytopenia affects people as well and there are many possible causes such as cancer, bone marrow disorders, infections, medicine side effects, environmental toxins and autoimmune disorders. But in this instance, it appears that there is a common thread running through all these cats affected which is the food that they have eaten.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, in a tweet, state that the common symptoms include lethargy and unexplained bleeding. In one of the first reports of a cat contracting the disease, the symptom was bleeding from the nose and ears. And in another early report the owner said that her cat went down very quickly from being apparently healthy to dying within one day.

The link between the foods listed and the disease is still being investigated. This is a multi-agency investigation with the following organisations working together: Royal Veterinary College, Animal Plant and Health Agency, other government departments across all nations of the UK, local authorities, the pet food supply chain including the ultimate manufacturers of the food, Fold Hill Foods Limited.

At this stage they say that there is no firm evidence to confirm the link. What's unusual about pancytopenia is that although it appears to be fairly common in humans it is rare enough in cats for the disease not to be listed in the index of my extensive reference book on feline health: Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook third edition which has over 600 pages.

If you own a cat and you live in the UK you really have to check your cat's food and cross-reference it with the list of recalled foods (click on link above and please do your own research in case the list has been extended).

Update: July 24, 2021: this is a rather feeble update. There is still no firm connection between these foods and Pancytopenia. But they've found mycotoxins in the food. The investigation continues.

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