Three domestic cats infected with bovine tuberculosis through eating raw cat food
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:
Although your post is from Oct 2018, there are several updates (more cats and humans now, infected) – You’re talking about the raw food that was pretty much proven to cause the M. bovis (the University of Edinburgh did all the testing, followup on the original cases, and likely still is testing more and more cats). See, what you don’t understand is what is caused rule-outs. The authors/vets who published the report on the first 6 cases and Edinburgh took exhaustive histories of those cats and there was one, and only one, factor that every single cat shared – they were all fed Natural Instincts Wild Venison raw cat food. All cats were indoors-only (ruling out conflicts with wildlife/transmission). All were fed this crap food since kitten-hood (yes, every single one). All had the same classic symptoms of M. bovis and lab alterations. 5 of the 6 unfortunately died. Seven more cats were tested and diagnosed as they were sharing the same households and eating the same food. All tested positive. More cats have been infected, and two humans have been infected – more are infected every month. Once you are spooning out contaminated raw food onto your counters, washing dishes in the sink, and spreading contamination all over the premises, it is already an environmental hazard. M. bovis can take days, months or YEARS to manifest symptoms, by then it is challenging to diagnose effectively and treat effectively – relapses from treatment are common and sadly, not all of these poor cats survive.
You should know that it was found that Natural Instincts did not perform quality control on their premises, the food, the supply. You want to harp on pet food manufacturers, Natural Instincts deserves a multi-million dollar lawsuit, forfeit and seizure due to their blatant disregard for pets and their safety. They downplayed it by providing skewed facts on their website and basically deny any culpability.
Raw isn’t and never has been better than any other cat food. As a matter of fact, there is a 100% chance that it contains one or more nasty pathogens, and you will never be able to identify it. Freezing does not kill these pathogens, it only slows the growth and proliferation, and once thawed, there you have it, more growth, more spread, more deadly contamination for cats and humans alike.
I loathe people who foolishly think that raw/”natural” is what is best for cats. There are thousands of published research papers to prove to you people that raw meat and other raw ingredients are anything but safe. Get educated, your cats deserve better.
Thanks for this Kate. I did in fact do an article on the latest bTB issue with raw cat food:
This is a segue. Could we also talk about Toxoplasma gondii? It seems that this single-celled parasite is capable of equipping mice with the ability to not fear domestic felines. Thanks.
Obviously, it’s not single-celled. And it produces subtle changes in the host, including us! 😉
PS. The TB reactor testing of cattle is not always reliable either.
This is very pertinent to me. I wish we knew which companies manufactured the prepared raw diets. One of my FIV+ cats thrives on a commercially prepared raw diet. It has calmed his food obsession and reduced his fear aggression. I am concerned that Jet may be vulnerable to this infection.
As in humans, I believe that long term antibiotic therapy may work to save an infected cat. However, TB is nasty, tricky and can turn up in any part of the mammalian body. Drug therapy may also be less effective due to antibiotic resistance.
Thank you for alerting us to this threat.
I had no idea that meat infected with Bovine TB was legally sold both for human and companion animal consumption.
I am not surprised though, the pet food industry is secretive, dishonest & all about profit, not welfare.
Monday morning, the well known company that supplies the prepared raw diet, will be getting a phone call, I hope they can provide some written reassurance or guarantees that their product
Michael were the 3 moggies euthanized or can they be cured? I hope for the latter.