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Update from the Food Standards Agency, Food Standards Scotland and Defra following the rise in cases of feline pancytopenia

We are aware that it is a very distressing time for cat owners.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), Food Standards Scotland (FSS), Royal Veterinary College (RVC), Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), local authorities and the pet food supply chain are taking the situation extremely seriously. All potential causes of feline pancytopenia are being investigated.

No unsafe cat food has been identified but the manufacturer and brand owners affected, based on investigations so far, have taken the precautionary action of recalling batches of cat food that have been possibly linked to affected cats.

The FSA has published a product recall notice which details the affected products. Cases of feline pancytopenia are continuing to rise so we want to spread the message to cat owners who may not have heard about the recall.

A series of targeted analytical tests were initially undertaken to look for heavy metals and mycotoxins (including T-2/HT-2) in the recalled cat food, as these toxins are known to be able to cause pancytopenia in cats. Tests were also undertaken to see if some of these toxins or any deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals could be identified in the bloods of cats with confirmed cases of feline pancytopenia. No definitive cause has yet been identified, although full results are currently pending.

Our joint investigations, by the food business and respective agencies involved, have since broadened to look for a much wider spectrum of toxic substances in the recalled cat foods, individual ingredients and in the blood of affected cats.

Certain viruses are known to cause feline pancytopenia, of which the most common have also been ruled out, but we continue to consider all possible causes.

The RVC is continuing in its role of gathering information about all identified cases through a call for information to vets in an attempt to identify any common denominators which might point to an underlying cause. The RVC website provides updates on the number of cats which have been diagnosed with feline pancytopenia, which now stands at 443 cases on 1 July 2021.

With acute cases of this nature, it may be some time until we can definitively identify a common cause. The investigation remains of an utmost priority and should additional products be identified as potentially unsafe further alerts will be issued.