On April 21st, we reported that the FDA confirmed an investigation into complaints from consumers over deaths and illnesses related to the ingestion of NUTRO cat foods. On May 21st, NUTRO issued a voluntary recall (click here for details).
Lisa Wade McCormick of ConsumerAffairs.com has been following the NUTRO Food Recall story closely and written a series of articles on NUTRO’s handling of consumer complaints and the recall. Her most recent article is reprinted, in part, here (there’s a link at the bottom to the complete article).
Cats sickened by recalled pet food; NUTRO denies responsibility
By Lisa Wade McCormick
Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved
June 3, 2009
Dont tell Christina W. that NUTRO hasnt received any complaints about the two varieties of cat food the company recently pulled off the market. The Maryland woman and owner of five cats doesnt believe that claim, which the pet food maker continues to tout on its Web site.
Christina says she put NUTRO on official notice Tuesday that one of the flavors of cat food included in its May 21 recall — NUTRO Max Indoor Weight Control — made her beloved cat, Jake, seriously ill.
I called them this morning and told them first and foremost that if they didnt have a recording machine on now, they should turn it on because I was making a formal complaint, says Christina, who confirmed the dates and UPC codes on Jakes food matched the ones included in the recall.
NUTRO recalled seven flavors of its NATURAL CHOICE COMPLETE CARE and NUTRO MAX dry cat foods, saying the products contained incorrect levels of zinc and potassium. The company blamed the problem on a production error by its U.S. premix supplier, Trouw Nutrition. One of the premixes contained excessive levels of zinc and low levels of potassium, NUTRO said. The second contained low levels of potassium.
Christina has no doubts that the problems with NUTROs recalled cat food played a significant role in Jakes illness.
He has eaten Nutro food for the past two years, she says, adding her 13-year-old cat received a clean bill of health in March. We were a week into a new bag (of NUTRO) when his illness became apparent. Over the weekend, she says, Jake suddenly started having bouts of vomiting and diarrhea. He also became lethargic and dehydrated.
I rushed him to the emergency vet (on Sunday), where he was diagnosed with elevated liver enzymes.” On Monday, a sonogram revealed Jake had pancreatitis.
Hes still in the hospital and in pain, and were waiting to see if his liver enzymes return to normal, Christina says. His prognosis is okay — as long as his liver and pancreas can recover. The poor thing has an IV stuck in his leg. His little arm is shaved. Hes already had to have blood drawn several times.
“A horrible death”
Christina say its heart wrenching to see Jake in so much agony. He howls and cries and bangs his head against the top of his cage, she told us. Its a horrible thing to have a cat survive 13 years illness free (and then) to have him brought down by his own food.
Im furious, to say the least. I cant convey enough how devastating this is to our family both Jakes illness and the concerns we have that any of the four others may might also follow in his spiraling health. And if Jake dies, furious isnt even close to describing how Ill feel.
Christina isnt the only pet owner who is convinced that NUTROs recalled dry cat foods caused their pets’ illnesses. Some even believe the recalled foods contributed to their cats recent deaths.
They’re grieving cat owners like Shira D. of Carson, California. My cat is dead due to NUTRO Max, she wrote us, adding the UPC codes on her cat’s food match the ones included in the recall.
My three-year-old healthy indoor cat, Angel, became ill on (Saturday) May 16, 2009, after beginning a new bag of NUTRO Max cat food. We took her to the vet on Monday where they had to do a blood transfusion on her.
Angels health, however, continued to deteriorate. She died a horrible death a few days later.
I will never forget the graphic images of her grasping for air, Shira says. I’ve never seen a perfectly healthy cat lose the ability to go to the bathroom in her litter box, lose her appetite, and lose her ability to play. She became extremely ill so suddenly after (eating from) the contaminated bag of NUTRO.”