Cause of Food-Related Cat Deaths Still Unknown

A class-action lawsuit could be imminent against Menu Foods.

Posted: March 22, 2007, 5 a.m. EST

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The pet food that’s been linked to the deaths of at least 16 cats and dogs in the United States and caused a massive North American product recall has shown no signs of contamination, its manufacturer says.

The company, Ontario, Canada-based Menu Foods, also says it is still unable to explain why the affected cats and dogs developed acute kidney failure and died.

In a brief telephone interview with the media, March 21, to update the recall and investigation status, Menu Foods Chief Executive and President Paul Henderson said the company hypothesizes that one ingredient, believed to be wheat gluten, represents the highest probability as to the cause.

“But we have been unable to prove that through scientific information,” Henderson said.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has sent investigators to Menu Foods’ Kansas manufacturing plant, where the contagion is believed to have originated. Because wheat gluten is not usually a problematic source, the FDA says, it’s looking at the possibility that a mold or chemical toxin contaminated the wheat gluten.

So far, the affected cat foods have only come from the Kansas plant.

On March 16, because of the reported dog and cat deaths, Ontario, Canada-based Menu Foods Inc., launched a recall of 95 brands of wet dog and cat food produced between Dec. 3, 2006 and March 6, 2007. An estimated 60 million packages were recalled.

Nine of the initial reported animal deaths were cats that fell ill during a quarterly taste test Menu Foods conducted to test the products’ palatability, the FDA said.

Meanwhile, a woman in Chicago whose cat died after eating presumably tainted food that was later recalled by Menu Foods, has filed a lawsuit against the company.

Dawn Majerczyk, 43, said her orange tabby, Phoenix, fell sick last week, two days after he ate a single package of Special Kitty, one of 95 pet foods Menu Foods recalled. Majerczyk filed suit in Chicago March 20.

“I want my vet bills [paid for] and I want some compensation for what they did to my kids and for the company's neglect,” she said.

As of March 21, Menu Foods said it has yet to see the suit and would have no comment on it.

The FDA said the affliction seems to affect cats more than dogs, and that animals usually show signs of contamination within a few days of consuming tainted food. The FDA also said it expects additional pet deaths as the investigation unfolds, but would not speculate on the number.

Among the symptoms of kidney failure in animals are loss of appetite, nausea and frequent urination.

The recall includes about 90 brands across the entire manufacturing spectrum. A complete list of affected cat foods is available here. Anyone with products identified on these lists should immediately stop feeding them to pets.

Owners of pets affected by the recalled pet foods who wish to report the incident should contact the Food and Drug Administration through its website, to find the FDA complaint coordinator in their state.

Click here for more information on the Menu Foods recall. 

To see all of CatChannel’s pet food recall updates, click here.

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Cause of Food-Related Cat Deaths Still Unknown

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F    International

1/28/2014 5:42:14 PM

MELAMINE...that is your ingredient. The CEO IS LYING about the wheat gluten. Melamine offers protein results higher than normal so they can put less nutritive ingredient and more plastic counter top. Google melamine and Chinese children death, and U.S. milk supply and foods tainted with melamine. GREED killed my cat.

Jackie    Plantsville, CT

10/15/2013 6:28:44 PM

I found my Pip dead Monday morning and my Jynx died Tuesday at 1:15am. Neither exhibited any symptoms. Jynx was 6 and Pip was 5. On Tuesday morning I went to feed the rest of my cats their food, Purina Cat Chow Indoor Formula. Every one of them rejected the food. At this point i was thinking we had a virus going through our kladder of kitties and was very worried. After a visit to the vet with a surviving cat, the vet determined that in her opinion the culprit was the cat food. I called Purina and was given the old song and dance....they took the information about the batch number saying that there are no recalls....yada yada yada. I had to request they test the food. they didn't want an autopsy...and quite frankly, I can't afford one. I am appalled to find so many people have experienced the same thing! How can they be allowed to sell food that could kill our fur-babies?? I foolishly thought they cared about our animals. I'll NEVER purchase another Purina product again. I will also encourage my family and friends to drop them as well.

Marcia    Picayune, MS

11/10/2009 6:34:00 PM

I think your right, it is happening again. My Bernie passed away unexpectedly last Friday, I found him on the bathroom floor. He was only 4 years old and had not shown any signs of anything being wrong. Necropsy was conducted, kidneys were severely discolored and bladder was extremely small. I am still waiting on toxicology results. He and the others ate Purina Cat Chow. I have another male cat with urinary tract issues. Since Bernie died I have them all on Iams Proactive Health.

Joanne    Royal Palm Beach, FL

3/29/2009 3:56:11 PM

Three days ago I opened a new bag of Purina cat chow indoor formula, purchased from a Walmart in Florida, and fed it to my (then) two cats. Yesterday, (March 28th), I came home to find my 7 yr old male cat DEAD!!! I am utterly devastated...he was my best friend and my lap cat...everyone adored him! My other cat, also male, 5 yrs old was found in another room that he doesn't normally lay in, and was dry heaving soooo bad. Terrified that he was going to die too, I took them both to the emergency vet at 11pm. The 5 yr old dry heaved/white foam & clear liquid again at the vet's office. The vet brought to my attention that there were tiny black things noticed in it. I took pictures of them where they could be seen on the pale yellow towel. He is still at the vet undergoing IV fluids and antibiotics. As soon as I returned home, I checked the food and found the same black things were in the food!!!!!! I am outraged and livid with anger after researching the net for answers and finding that many, many pets have died this way and NO ONE is doing anything about it! Recalls still need to be done and enforced. I strongly feel all pet owners should be compensated for their beloved pets and their loss.

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