Shock: no link between suspect pet food and feline pancytopenia which has killed 335 cats

You may remember the distressing news that at least 335 domestic cats have died of pancytopenia, a rare disease in cats (one case per year normally) which stops the bone marrow producing red, white and T-cells in the blood. It is a rapid killer when it sets in. The investigators had believed that the cause was a common source of a number of cat food products sold at Pets at Home and Sainsbury’s (see full list by clicking this link). The common manufacturer was Fold Hill Foods.

Cameron died of pancytopenia after eating Applaws grain free food for 2 weeks only

Cameron died of pancytopenia after eating Applaws grain free food for 2 weeks only. Photo: SWNS.

Earlier posts:

The foods concerned were recalled. The Telegraph newspaper reported 7 hours ago that the mystery over this killer disease has deepened after the investigation found no link between the foods and the disease.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) stated yesterday, Thursday, that: “No causative link between pancytopenia and the recalled cat food products has been established. We are therefore deeply disappointed that the FSA was unable to find a definitive cause for the distressing spike in cases of feline pancytopenia.”

They realise this will be upsetting to cat owners. It obviously means that the cause is still out there which in turn means that more cats are likely to die unless the cause was a one-off event.

Have they checked if there is a common geographic location linking the reported cases? I have not seen anything on that. In humans there are many possible causes of pancytopenia which include:

  • Diseases such as cancer, lupus or bone marrow disorders
  • Infections
  • Medicine side effects
  • Environmental toxins, including radiation, benzene or arsenic
  • Chemotherapy or radiation treatments
  • Autoimmune disorders

I’d focus on environmental toxins. That would seem to be the most likely as this is a massive spike in cases. It looks like the cats have been poisoned. This is why the investigators targeted pet food initially. It was believed that there was a toxic fungus in the foods (mycotoxins) from the cereal component. In other words, a form of poisoning. I’d continue on the poisoning route but look for a different source.

Can cat owners do something to protect their cats? No, is the short answer as the investigation is back to square one. I would ask the FSA if there is a cluster of cases geographically. If there is, it would assist cat owners. They’d know if they were in a danger area.

As at Aug 23, there have been 653 cases with a 62.5% mortality.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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