Information from The Royal Veterinary College (RVC):
The RVC is investigating the sudden increase in feline pancytopenia in cats in the UK.
After noticing an increase in cats presenting with pancytopenia (a severe reduction in all major types of blood cells) in May, we started gathering data from UK vets. Our investigations showed a strong association between this syndrome and specific diets and therefore we welcomed the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) product recall notice. While diet has not definitively been established as the cause of pancytopenia in these cats, we are continuing to liaise with the pet food industry and regulatory bodies to investigate the matter and identify the possible underlying causes of this extremely serious condition.
Our investigations are ongoing and we are still collecting data from vets, as well as testing food samples and samples from affected cats. We have not yet found a definitive cause for the syndrome.
We are now, sadly, aware of over 400 affected cats. Common signs that owners of affected cats note include lethargy and loss of appetite, although in some cases they see signs of spontaneous bleeding or bruising. We encourage owners to contact their veterinary practice if they are worried that their cat may be affected.
To further support these efforts, we are encouraging vets who have seen cats with unexplained severe thrombocytopenia and/or neutropenia with or without concurrent anemia to complete our survey (https://rvc.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/pancytopenia). ”Royal Veterinary College (RVC) – 1st July 2021
The veterinary school is now asking owners who have cats suffering with symptoms – such as bleeding from the mouth and nose – to fill out a survey so they can discover the origins of the potential toxin.
Arwen and Maia, the kittens’ legacy research
We were devastated to hear that two of Miss Skimbleshank’s (Miss S) ex foster-kittens, 11 months old Arwen and Maia, died within a day of each other of a horrible disease called Feline Pancytopenia.
The illness is very rare, normally only 1 or 2 cases per year, but at the time our kitties were affected, there had been 40 or more cases. The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has been involved in investigations from the beginning, and our own Miss S has been liaising with them and other campaigners to bring this to everyone’s attention.
Miss S’s ‘GoFundMe’ page is raising funds to pay for the rest of the foster cats in Arwen and Maia’s family, and any adoptive housemates to be blood tested for Pancytopenia. Thankfully, results have so far proved negative, and any left over funding is being diverted to the RVC to support their investigations into this dreadful illness which has little known about it.
Affected cats just appear a bit unwell initially, off their food and a bit lethargic, then deteriorate rapidly. The disease seems to make the blood lose its red and white blood cells and platelets causing uncontrollable bleeding, anaemia and inability to fight secondary infections. Unless they can be quickly placed on expensive life-support treatment, affected animals have only a small chance of survival.
If your cat shows any of the following common symptoms and your are concerned, please take them to the vet for a blood test:
- Stopped Eating
- Pale Gums
- Blood in Stools
- Blood in Urine
- Off Balance
- Bad Breath
- Bleeding from Gums
Investigations by the RVS have so far only found 1 possible causal link – this is to certain brands of pet food manufactured by Fold Hill Foods. The affected brands are AVA through Pets at Home, Applaws, and Sainsbury’s own brand hypoallergenic food. Fold Hill Foods have reacted very responsibly and have recalled all of these products even though there is no definite evidence of the cat food being responsible for causing the illness. Details of these products, and action to be taken to return them can be found on the Food Standard Agency’s website. All the products will have the code GB218E5009 which refers to the manufacturer. There is no evidence at this time that the disease can be passed between animals.
Thankfully awareness is now spreading rapidly – ITV’s This Morning show (Series 33 – Episode 123 – 10.38) had a feature on 23rdJune about Pancytopenia and there have been articles in a few of the daily papers. There are a number of Facebook sites which are providing information and advice too. We want to make even more people aware so please spread the word to anyone involved with cats; independent vet surgeries, friends with cats, non-chain pet shops etc. Let’s get the word out there and stop this disease from harming any more of our beloved pets.