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  • Writer's pictureOxford Cat Clinic

Investigation into a possible link between certain dry diets and Pancytopaenia in 200 cats

ALERT - Update Friday 18th June 2021

You may have heard reports about a spike in cases of feline pancytopaenia over recent weeks. Pancytopaenia, a sometimes fatal condition marked by low numbers of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, usually indicates an underlying cause, such as exposure to a bone marrow suppressing drug or a toxicant. Thus far, an underlying cause has not been identified. However, researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in London are investigating a potential link with certain cat foods.

As a precaution, certain products have been recalled from the market with immediate effect. Products include selected dry food ranges from AVA (Pets At Home), Applaws & Sainsbury’s. For full details see here and below:

We are aware of over 200 cats that have been affected across the UK - but more cases are suspected as not all may be reported. Unfortunately, this condition is associated with a high rate of mortality in severely affected cats.

Important Questions and Answers for owners

My cat has been eating a recalled food brand, what shall I do?

1. Do not feed your cat any more of this food.

  • Check if you have bought the affected products and batch code(s) / «use-by / best before» date(s). You can do this by taking a picture of this information from this link or writing down the batch code(s) / «use-by / best before» date(s) for reference with your food items at home. It would be helpful to photograph or record the same data on your own food packets if at all possible

  • Return the product(s) to the store for a full refund (with or without a receipt) - but ONLY after you have recorded the details above

    • The tracing system will be vital in establishing any potential links with food. If your cat is affected we will need these details, alongside an idea of exactly which food your cat was eating and for how long, when flea and worming treatment was last applied, and the batch numbers should you have them, what cat litter the cat is using.

More information: If you have bought an AVA product contact and fill out the contact form on the help page or livechat. If you have bought an Applaws product contact If you have bought a Sainsbury’s product contact or their Customer Careline on 0800 636262

2. We recommend screening any cats that have been receiving the listed diets. Contact us to book and examination and blood test to look at the levels of red and white blood cells and platelets in your cat’s blood. Decreases in these levels are seen if your cat is affected with pancytopaenia. The initial examination visit is £48.50 and the costs of the blood screen is £69.96. You will be informed of the results by phone. If abnormalities are discovered we will likely book a follow-on visit or telephone consultation to discuss the changes and any treatment that may be indicated.

What signs should I be looking out for?

Cats initially show no ill-effect or only non-specific signs such as lethargy and loss of appetite. In more severely affected cases there are signs of spontaneous bleeding or bruising; the gums may appear pale or have little blood bruises (petechiae), or larger areas of bruising. Similar signs may be seen in thinly furred areas of the skin. Occasionally a cat may be very collapsed. We encourage owners to contact the veterinary practice ASAP if you are worried that your cat may be affected. We will arrange an appointment to examine your cat and discuss the further investigation necessary.

What happens next?

Normal blood test results will offer immediate peace of mind - but because we do not fully understand the course of the condition animals fed affected diets for any length of time should continue to be monitored for any changes.

Where abnormal platelet or white cell counts are found we would recommend repeat sampling after 3-5 days. Animals with more overt clinical symptoms may be admitted for treatment.

Currently, there is not enough information to fully understand the nature, cause and outcome of this condition. The link with diet is not proven and the recall is precautionary. The RVC research is ongoing. If affected your cat may add to the body of information that we have, so, with your permission, we will submit cases details to the RVC survey and in that way hope to help even more cats. As part of the data collection, we will ask if you are willing to be contacted by the RVC and for a number they may use for this purpose

Please do not hesitate to ring or e-mail the clinic to book an appointment or if you have further questions.

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