I would class this as another potential pet food scandal. They keep on coming from the pet food manufacturing industry (for USA see the Truth About Pet Food website). In this instance veterinarians in the UK have put out a nationwide alert after three pedigree, purebred cats were diagnosed with bovine tuberculosis. It is suggested that they contracted the disease from commercial, raw cat food.
Important note: Personally I am very much in favour of a raw food diet for cats. The current issue appears to be a case of double standards. I am not criticising the raw cat food market. I think a lot more cats should be on raw foods. I have little faith in commercially prepared cat food.
Safe or not?
The problem is that 43,000 cattle with the disease were slaughtered in the UK in 2017. DEFRA (the UK’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) state that all meat from cattle killed because it’s been infected by bovine TB has been through rigourous food safety checks before it is passed on for consumption. They say that it doesn’t matter how it is cooked.
However, the Times newspaper reports that bovine tuberculosis contaminated meat is sold for human consumption use in schools, prisons and the military and to pet food firms.
The meat is considered safe for human consumption because cooking it kills bovine TB bacteria. But the risk is to pets because if they’re eating raw cat food they are ingesting raw meat contaminated with bovine TB.
This may, and I stress may because we don’t know, be the reason why three pedigree cats have been diagnosed with the disease as mentioned above.
In defence, the Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association said that the evidence linking the TB outbreaks to domestic cats because of raw cat food was only circumstantial.
Young indoor cats
The three cats concerned were young; under two-years-of-age and they are indoor cats. They were adopted as kittens. Veterinarians at one of the UK’s leading feline veterinary centres said that they are urging clinicians to be aware of the possibility of bovine tuberculosis in young cats because they were fed raw cat food.
All of the above concerns the UK. However, I note that the USA has an issue with bovine tuberculosis too. I do not know how infected meat is dealt with in the USA with respect to pet food. Does it find its way into pet food?
A study carried out in Michigan in 2002 found that dogs and cats living on infected cattle farms did not contract the disease neither were they a risk to humans on the farm. However, an earlier study Pennsylvania indicated a high risk of both dogs and cats acquiring bovine tuberculosis from infected cattle.
Another aspect of this disease is that it can be transmitted from cats to their owners. Britain has about 11 million domestic cats.
Although there is a risk of cats transmitting the disease to their owners, my research indicates that information on this is very limited. There is only one inconclusive cat-to-human transmission of the disease in the US, as I understand it, but see the linked page below….
Earlier article on this: