A pet owner who fears their cats died after eating food linked to an outbreak of a rare disease has told of his family’s anguish.
Andrew Kay, 45, told Sky News the deaths of ragdolls Bell and Blue had left a “real hole” in his children’s lives after the animals are believed to have succumbed to pancytopenia.
More than 130 cases of the rare illness, which causes blood cells to rapidly decline, have been recorded since April alone, as the Royal Veterinary College announced it will investigate the “spike”.
Major retailers including Sainsbury’s and Pets at Home have recalled dry food products, manufactured by Fold Hill Foods, over links to the outbreak as a precaution.
The list of products, released on Wednesday, has since been updated to include more items on Thursday.
The Food Standards Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) warned cat owners not to feed their pets the affected products.
No unsafe cat food has been identified but Fold Hill Foods and retailers acted as a “precaution”, a government spokesperson said, adding: “There is no definitive evidence to confirm a link at this stage.”
Mr Kay says he fed his cats, both nine months, Applaws Cat Dry Chicken – one of the products feared to have been contaminated – which is also stocked by Amazon.
Both cats were put to sleep in May.
Bell was poorly first, becoming listless and suffering from diarrhoea, which was treated with antibiotics, said Mr Kay, a chiropractor from Essex.
“She seemed to perk up a bit but then took a turn for the worse, she started bleeding around the gums,” he told Sky News.
“Then she started fitting and having seizures, she was spiralling out as my daughter put it.
“She was bleeding internally and not able to clot, and having strokes.”
A vet offered to perform a blood transfusion but sadly could not save Bell.
Blue, despite being more “robust” than his companion, fell poorly soon afterwards.
“It was obvious he had the same thing as Bell,” Mr Kay said.
“The vet asked if the cats could have come into contact with any toxins.
“Having spoken to the vets they say if they had been exposed to toxins we suspect it could be the food.”
We have updated a product recall to include additional batches of cat food. This is a voluntary update by the manufacturer.
The recall is due to a potential link to pancytopenia, a serious illness in cats.
— Food Standards Agency (@foodgov) June 17, 2021
Mr Kay said the experience had been devastating for wife Shanaaz, their 12-year-old Max, and 10-year-old daughter Maya.
“The children have been very accepting as horrific as it has been, and it has been horrific.
“It’s left a real hole, a gap in our family, we have lost two members of our family.
“We had another ragdoll, Charlie, who got run over this year so Bell and Blue were going to be our forever pets, we were going to breed them.
“But it wasn’t meant to be.”
Now the family have vowed not to get another pet until the cause of the outbreak has been determined.
Dozens of cat owners have voiced their concerns on social media – with many claiming their animals had died after eating potentially contaminated products.
Sky News has contacted Fold Hill Foods for comment.
In a statement, the company said on Wednesday: “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.”
You can find the full updated list of products recalled here.