Fears of toxic cat food are growing as UK veterinarians grapple with an unexplained sickness

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As incidences of the blood disorder pancytopenia continue to rise, researchers believe food fungus may be to blame.

Cats are still dying in large numbers as a result of an unknown sickness that authorities believe is linked to popular cat food brands, raising concerns that not enough is being done to notify owners about a statewide product recall. Pancytopenia is a disorder in which the amount of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets rapidly declines, producing serious illness. The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) announced this week that it had received reports of at least 528 cases in cats in recent months, with 63.5 percent of those cases becoming fatal. Because many cases are not reported to veterinarians and only a tiny percentage of veterinarians send data on to the RVC, the true number of deaths could be far higher, according to the paper.

In mid-June, the maker of Sainsbury’s hypoallergenic cat foods, Applaws and AVA (a Pets at Home brand), issued a recall, sparking an investigation by the RVC and the Food Standards Agency (FSA). More than six weeks after initially raising the alarm, the RVC and FSA have yet to identify the reason of the series of deaths. Suppliers of cat food are alleged to be frustrated by the investigation’s length. Both organizations have stated that they are investigating all options, even ones unrelated to food.

One cat owner, whose companion died on Tuesday, expressed concern that too few people were aware of the recall and were unknowingly giving their cats potentially lethal items. Freyja, a nine-year-old ragdoll, died on Tuesday after five days of illness, according to Steven Barrett, a commercial attorney from High Wycombe. Freya had only ever eaten Applaws, according to Barrett, and had just completed the last of a 7.5kg bag of the dry chicken food when she began vomiting.

He claimed he was unaware of the product recall until he tried to get more food online and discovered it was unavailable, causing him to investigate. “My heart went through the floor,” he said. “She was a member of our little family, which is how we treated her. I just wanted her to have the best food.”

Despite the fact that the RVC and FSA investigations are still ongoing, a statement on the RVC website speculated that the disease could be caused by mycotoxins, which are harmful substances generated naturally by certain fungi. Mycotoxins can grow on crops before or after harvest and can be found in foods such as cereals, nuts, spices, dried fruits, apple juice, and coffee, especially in warm, humid environments. A spokesperson for Fold Hill said: “As stated by the FSA, there is no definitive evidence to confirm a link at this stage between the cat food products and feline pancytopenia.

 “We continue to fully cooperate with both the FSA and the RVC as they continue to investigate all potential causes of the pancytopenia cases, feed and non-feed related.

“As cat owners ourselves, we fully understand how upsetting and stressful this situation is and the urgent need to establish why there has been an increase in cases of pancytopenia in the UK.”

Sainsbury’s said it was cooperating investigators with a probe concerning two of its hypoallergenic cat diets and was offering full refunds, while Pets at Home said it had recalled AVA and Applaws products and was assisting them. Applaws said it was “heartbroken” that any food it sold could be linked to cat deaths, and that it was cooperating with the investigation.

Story By: Norvisi Eyiram