At least 150 cats dead as food is recalled over potential link to rare and fatal disease

A possible link to the deaths of more than 100 cats is is catfood. The recalled food is being tested, ITV News Reporter Martha Fairlie reports

A heartbroken owner who had to put down her two-year-old cat on the same day she took her to the vet wants answers, as food is recalled over a potential link to a fatal disease.

At least 150 cats have died as retailers continue recalling dry pet food, with authorities investigating a link to an outbreak of Pancytopenia, a rare and deadly condition where the number of blood cells rapidly decrease.

Food writer Jo Kenny suspects her cat, Sushi, was one of those who may have died in this outbreak after eating one of the products now being recalled.

After showing signs of lethargy and with some dried blood around her mouth, Mrs Kenny took her to the vet, where tests showed no signs of illness.

But in the next few days her condition deteriorated and on May 10 she was put to sleep - just hours after being brought back in.

Jo Kenny, here with her pet cat Sushi, took her to the vet after she suddenly fell ill.

"In the space of four or five days she went from totally normal to being put down, she was completely health and happy," Mrs Kenny told ITV News.

"It was heartbreaking. It was such a sudden thing, we thought maybe she was under the weather and then being called in to be told she needed to be put down was really upsetting.

"If you are a pet owner, you know they are like family."

Mrs Kenny, who had fed Sushi AVA dry cat food, added she is keen to find out the results of the investigations into any links between the products and the outbreak.

"Nothing is conclusive yet about the investigation, on the one hand it’s nice to know we have some kind of answer for what happened to her," she said.

"With the investigation it gives some kind of closure, but it's also awful to know it was potentially something so innocent that we were feeding her that killed her."

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) said on Friday: "The RVC is aware of 209 cats that have been affected based on cases treated at our own hospitals and information provided by some vets in the UK.

"Of these there was 72.5% percent mortality at time of reporting."

It added the true figure is likely to be significantly higher as "many cats may not be presented to a vet" and only a small percentage of practices report to the RVC at this time.

One of those who appeared to die with this condition

Credit: PA

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Defra are advising cat owners not to give their pets food made by manufacturer Fold Hill as a precaution.

Sainsbury’s and Pets at Home are among the retailers that use the manufacturer.

This follows reports from earlier this week of more than 130 cases of feline pancytopenia, an illness that can often be fatal in cats, since April, the FSA said.

Pancytopenia is a rare condition where the number of blood cells (red, white and platelets) rapidly decrease, causing serious illness.

Symptoms include:

  • fatigue

  • loss of appetite

  • bleeding from mouth

  • blood in stool, urine or vomit

The FSA said the current outbreak of pancytopenia was potentially linked to specific cat food products.

A government spokesman said: "Working with the Royal Veterinary College, the Animal Plant and Health Agency and other government departments across all four nations of the UK, local authorities and the pet food supply chain, we are investigating a possible link between specific cat food products and feline pancytopenia.

"There is no definitive evidence to confirm a link at this stage.

"No unsafe cat food has been identified but the manufacturer and brand owners affected, based on investigations so far, are taking the precautionary action of recalling and withdrawing cat food products that have been linked to affected cats.

"There is no evidence to suggest this outbreak of feline pancytopenia presents any risk to human health."

Cat owners are advised to seek immediate advice from a vet if their pet is unwell and has been fed any of the food listed in the product recall.

Owners are also advised to use an alternative food if their cat’s usual food is included the recall.

Fold Hill Foods said products under the Sainsbury’s Hypoallergenic Recipe range and Pets at Home Ava range are being recalled.

Applaws products, which are sold by Amazon and other pet food shops, may also be unsafe.

Fold Hill Foods general manager, Ben Mankertz, said: “We are alarmed and deeply saddened to learn of reports from the food and veterinary authorities of some health issues in cats.

"As cat owners ourselves, we fully understand how upsetting and stressful this situation is for families and although diet has not been confirmed as the cause, we would prefer to act now to ensure the absolute safety of cats.

“As one of the leading pet food manufacturers in the UK, ensuring your pet’s safety is our priority and therefore we have chosen to recall the ranges of cat food that we manufacture for the brands who have been identified.

"We feel this is the safest course of action until an exact cause of the issue has been found.”

A Pets at Home spokeswoman said: “We are aware of the recent rise in feline pancytopenia cases identified by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC). The health and wellbeing of pets is our top priority, which is why we are supporting the manufacturer’s product recall of Ava and Applaws dry cat food ranges.

“This is a precautionary measure whilst further investigations are carried out and we are working closely with the FSA, RVC and wider industry to determine the cause.

“In the meantime our store colleagues are on hand to help customers select a suitable alternative.”

You can see the list of all the products being recalled here and below:


  • Sainsburys Hypoallergenic Recipe complete dry cat food with salmon 1+years 800g

  • Sainsburys Hypoallergenic Recipe complete dry cat food with chicken 1+years 800g

Pets at Home:

  • Ava Kitten Chicken 300g and 2kg

  • Ava Adult Chicken 300g, 2kg and 4kg

  • Ava Adult Fish 2kg

  • Ava Mature Chicken 7+ 2kg and 4kg

  • Ava Senior Chicken 12+ 2kg

  • Ava Sensitive Skin & Stomach 1.5kg

  • Ava Weight Management 1.5kg

  • Ava Hairball 1.5kg

  • Ava Oral Care 1.5kg

  • Ava British Shorthair 1.5kg

  • Ava Persian 1.5kg

  • Ava Maine Coon 1.5kg

Applaws products (with a site reference code of GB218E5009):

  • Applaws Cat Dry Chicken 400g, 2kg and 7.5kg

  • Applaws Cat Dry Senior Chicken 400g, 2kg and 7.5kg

  • Applaws Cat Dry Chicken & Salmon 400g, 2kg and 7.5kg

  • Applaws Kitten Dry Chicken 400g, 2kg and 7.5kg

  • Applaws Cat Dry Chicken & Lamb 400g, 2kg and 7.5kg

  • Applaws Cat Dry Chicken & Duck 400g, 2kg and 7.5kg

  • Applaws Cat Dry Ocean Fish 350g, 1.8kg and 6kg