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March 20, 2007

Cat Holocaust

A few months ago, Regina's 15-year-old male tabby, Teacake, was diagnosed as being in the early stages of kidney failure. He wasn't eating much, and he was thirsty all the time. So the vet gave us some special wet food for him to eat. The cat got better for a while, then he decided he didn't like the wet food. So Regina started buying different brands to find something that Teacake would eat. Anyone who's been following the news this week knows what's coming next.

About two weeks ago, over the course of approximately three days, Teacake wasted away before our eyes. His skin hung tight over his bones. His eyes turned glassy and leaked viscous fluid. He wandered the house, moaning and desperate. Then we took him to the vet, and an hour later, he lay down for the needle, grateful to be put out of his misery.

Now we learn of the great pet-food recall of 2007, and I'm hearing of many other stories like ours. Cats are dying by the hundreds. This analysis by a Pennsylvania pet-store owner explains things rationally. The grammatically suspect money quotes:

"On the whole there doesn't appear to any more problems now than in earlier years. The problems, however, may be bigger because of the advent of large processing plants that produce larger quantities of food that when tainted makes a much bigger problem...This is the tangled web we weave in this consumer-driven society that demands high quality with a cheap price tag. Sounds good but as in this case it can backfire. We can demand all we want, but the cheaper we demand the price the more mistakes will be made. A fact of life is if you always pay too little most of the time you will get too little in return."

I would also add the fact that food inspections, for humans and pets alike, have declined under the current administration. Apparently, tainted food is good business, and my wife's cat is more than likely a victim of government negligence and corporate greed in the age of globalization.

Farewell, Teacake. I'm not sorry to not have to clean up your disgusting litter box and voluminous barf anymore. But I am sorry you had to go this way.

Has anyone else been affected by the recent pet-food recall? Please use this space to share stories.

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Comments

Oh god, I'm so sorry about your cat. I totally agree with your assessment that quality control of food has declined under this administration. I'm now afraid to eat spinach or serve vegetables to my daughter. Welcome to Bush's brave new world!

Is that from 101 Uses For A Dead Cat? I've always loved that book.

On a more serious note, it's mind boggling the number of foods affected by this. I'm amazed that we actually don't use any on the list for our cat or our dog. I'm also loving the picture at the top of the recall page. That dog doesn't look too happy with what he's eating. Between the recall and the inevitable lawsuits, I think Menu Foods is done for.

I'm guessing that when it all shakes out, we'll find the same blame-shifting, amnesia and denial of responsibility that we're seeing from the aforementioned "current administration".

I'm starting to suspect that it was canned food that killed our male cat last month. He'd long been on the "anything he'll eat" canned food diet and we thought his rapid decline was due to age and the loss of his long-time companion (to cancer, presumably unrelated). Now I'm not so sure.

Condolences. Again.

I'm so sorry to hear about poor Teacake! It is really hard to lose a pet (especially with small children in the house).

We lost our cat a few weeks ago, too. He was just a young guy of 2. He became a victim of new construction and the rare warm, sunny Portland day in February - and not his cat food.

If you haven't read it yet, Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser, is a great book on the subject of just how unsafe the food supply has become for man and beast. As if we needed more reasons to never feed our children, or ourselves, "yucky fu"!

Oh man.

My condolences to you and the family. That's just not right.

I didn't think this would be the place I would start to uncover the circumtance's of Larry's untimely death (He was only 16). But the desciption of the passing of Teacake is more than eerily familiar. I'm sorry for your loss. Excuse me now I have to go search for their killer so I never have to sit in the rain in my backyard crying like a 13 year old girl.

I'm so sorry about your cat. We lost both our dogs last year. It is hard.

This isn't what you meant by "affected by the recall," but I have on the stove now a pot of reduced-for-quick-sale beef, carrots, and potatoes that I'm cooking down and will freeze as a substitute wet food for my (new) dog, because I couldn't bring myself to buy more cans this week. How I feel about it is somewhere between sad and ridiculous.

Pet loss is very hard. Especially when it was something crazy like this.

Sorry to hear it.

That's so messed up. I just recently got a pet and have become really attached in the last few months. I am sorry for your loss.

I just can't believe that the good people at Menu Foods Income Fund would steer pet owners wrong. I mean, we expect the Starbucks and Wal-Marts of the world to prize profit over safety, but not Menu Foods Income Fund! Whom can one trust in this crazy world, if not Menu Foods Income Fund?

Oh, Menu Foods Income Fund. We had such high hopes for you. You were going to be the Income Fund that cared more—that listened more—than all those other Income Funds. But when push came to shove, Menu Foods Income Fund, you were just another Income Fund.

From now on, in my household, "MFIF" stands for... well, this is a family weblog, so I won't elaborate. But it doesn't stand for Menu Foods Income Fund, I'll tell you that.

(Neal, I'm sorry about the cat.)

Sorry about the cat, Neal and Regina.

We may have been affected by the PB recall- http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2007/NEW01569.html

That the stats only list 329 people who have become ill is grossly underreported. Who is going to fork out co-pays for vomitting children to confirm Salmonella poisoning for the sake of CDC stats? This PB problem is also a direct result of cuts to the USDA programs. Yea, Dubya! He sooo rules!

"That the stats only list 329 people who have become ill is grossly underreported."

Right on! I think that thousands of pets are being effected by this.

Speaking of salmonella, my family in Nashville recently all become violently sick after eating dinner one night. My mom told me she had a hunch it was the tomatoes. I figure they had a virus. Sure enough, a few days later a story comes out in the paper that about 300 people had become ill with salmonella poisoning from tomatoes in the Nashville region. Well, the four of them never even went to the doctor - they just suffered in silence, and I mean suffered. So you figure that number is much higher.

I took the chance to fill her in on the FDA food inspection cuts. She was very surprised to hear that. Now she swears she'll only buy tomatoes from a local farmer's market. Of course, that leaves many other foods that can still make her sick, but it's a start.

Thanks for all the support regarding Teacake. I got him the month I graduated from college, and I first met him the day after he was born. It's very hard to say goodbye.

A search for "cat food recipe" in Google turns up a huge number of pages about homemade cat food. Also, health food stores usually have some alternatives.

I'm sure there will soon be a booming business in making and selling homemade pet food, so it may be worthwhile to keep an eye on the classifieds for entrepreneurs.

Sorry about Teacake. Over the years, I've lost three cats to the reaper, but none via cat food. It's never easy. On the bright side, this will help to reduce your ingestion of kitty litter.

The question is when will you get a kitten. You need a cat to remind the dogs that they are not superior pets. I've always liked cats that grew up around dogs. One of ours did, and he thinks he is a dog.

Aw, Pollacks, I'm so sorry to hear this. My condolences.

I'm so sorry for your loss. My cat had some weird spasm last night and I almost had a heart attack thinking it was the beginning of the end. (She almost died last year.) But none of her food is on the list and she seems okay today. Though she is drinking an awful lot. Gulp.

Judy,

Teacake's initial early renal troubles months ago first manifested as his drinking a lot and vomiting often. Also, diabetes can leave a pet thirsty often. It's worth taking your sweetie in for a check. Good luck!

i keep thinking of the rationality of that pet store owner, threatening consumers that if they buy discount, they can expect more health problems and even death. Okay, I do expect that from Taco Bell, but not from pet food. We must be back in Upton Sinclair territory.

I'm sorry, again, about Teacake. As David said above, we lost two dogs this year and it was incredibly hard.

We had a cat with a dramatic upper respiratory infection around the holidays who wouldn't eat and, on the vet's advice, we fed him canned food to tempt his appetite. He wouldn't touch one brand that was part of the recall (though I think our other cats may have eaten a little of it) and so we wound up feeding him jarred baby food and a brand of cat food that turned out to NOT affected by the recall. Since then, the two oldest cats have both had blood panels (in preparation for teeth cleanings) and thankfully all is normal with their bloodwork.

So our animals didn't get sick, but I have a strong "there but for the grace of God go I" feeling because we were feeding a very sick cat wet food a couple of months ago and if he'd have eaten something contaminated when he was so sick, I don't know what might have happened to him.

cnn.com is now reporting that there was rat poison found in the food that killed some of the pets.

sick. just sick.

I heard on NPR yesterday that the rat poison found in the food was used on wheat in China and then the wheat was used in the food. Did they not wash it?! How incredibly, incredibly careless of Menu foods and at such a cost.

i don't know how closely you're following this, but http://www.spockosbrain.com/ seems to be keeping up with the latest.

Is that a picture from 101 Things To Do With A Dead Cat?

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