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Warning - certain Applaws, Pets at Home, Sainsbury's and Wilko branded cat food recalled over fears it could be linked to fatal disease

Warning - certain Applaws, Pets at Home, Sainsbury's and Wilko branded cat food recalled over fears it could be linked to fatal disease

Pet owners have been warned to stop feeding certain dry food to their cats over fears it could be linked to a fatal disease. Certain Applaws, Pets at Home, Sainsbury’s and Wilko branded cat food made by Fold Hill Foods are affected by the precautionary recall but you can get a full refund from retailers. 

There is no definitive evidence to confirm a link between the cat food and a potentially fatal bone marrow condition called feline pancytopenia at this stage, but recalls have been issued voluntarily as a precaution while an investigation takes place. The initial recall covered certain Applaws, Pets at Home, and Sainsbury's brands but it has since been extended to cover all best before dates on affected Applaws products, while certain Wilko dried cat food has also now been recalled.   

According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), there have been over 130 cases of feline pancytopenia - a disease that causes the number of blood cells to rapidly decrease, which can lead to death - since April 2021. The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is also investigating. It typically sees one pancytopenia case per year but it's now seen 10 cats with severe pancytopenia in the past four weeks, including some from the same household.

If you have purchased any of the products listed below, you should stop feeding them to your cat straight away and if you're concerned about your cat's health, you should seek advice from your vet. According to the RVC, common symptoms to look out for include lethargy and loss of appetite, although in some cases there are signs of spontaneous bleeding or bruising.

According to the FSA, there's no evidence the outbreak poses a risk to human health. See our Cheap Pet Insurance guide for our top comparisons and deals. 

If you have any of the products below, stop feeding them to your pet

Here's a full list of the products that have been voluntarily recalled:

Product Pack size Batch /Item code Site code Best Before
Applaws Cat Dry Chicken 400g, 2kg and 7.5kg N/A GB218E5009 ALL
Applaws Cat Dry Chicken & Salmon 400g, 2kg and 7.5kg  N/A GB218E5009 ALL
Applaws Kitten Dry Chicken 400g, 2kg and 7.5kg   N/A GB218E5009 ALL
Applaws Cat Dry Chicken & Lamb 400g, 2kg and 7.5kg N/A GB218E5009 ALL
Applaws Cat Dry Chicken & Duck 400g, 2kg and 7.5kg N/A GB218E5009 ALL
Applaws Cat Dry Ocean Fish 350g, 1.8kg and 6kg N/A GB218E5009 ALL
Applaws Cat Dry Senior Chicken 400g, 2kg and 7.5kg  N/A GB218E5009 ALL
AVA Kitten Chicken 300g and 2kg ALL N/A ALL
AVA Adult Fish 300g, 2kg and 4kg ALL N/A ALL
AVA Adult Mature Chicken 7+ 2kg ALL N/A ALL
AVA Senior Chicken 12+ 2kg and 4kg ALL N/A ALL
AVA Sensitive Skin & Stomach  2kg ALL N/A ALL
AVA Weight Management  1.5kg ALL N/A ALL
AVA Hairball 1.5kg ALL N/A ALL
AVA Oral Care 1.5kg ALL N/A ALL
AVA British Shorthair 1.5kg ALL N/A ALL
AVA Persian 1.5kg ALL N/A ALL
AVA Maine Coon 1.5kg ALL N/A ALL
by Sainsbury’s Hypoallergenic Recipe complete dry cat food with Salmon 1+ Years 800g ALL N/A ALL
by Sainsbury’s Hypoallergenic Recipe complete dry cat food with Chicken 1+ Years 800g ALL N/A ALL
Wilko Meaty Feast Cat Rabbit/ Chicken/ Veg  950g 0267053 N/A N/A
Wilko Best Salmon & Tuna Dry Cat  800g 0463508 N/A N/A
Wilko Best Beef & Chicken Dry Cat  800g 0463507  N/A N/A
Wilko Cat Food Active Health Salmon  800g 0470811  N/A N/A
Wilko Active Health Cat Food Chicken 2kg 0481421 N/A N/A
Wilko Active Health Cat Food Salmon  2kg 0481422 N/A N/A
Wilko Dry Cat Food Active Health 7+  800g 0470808 N/A N/A
Wilko Cat Food Active Health Hairball Control  800g 0470809 N/A N/A
Wilko Dry Cat Food Active Health S. 800g 0470807 N/A N/A
Wilko Cat Food Active Health Chicken  800g 0470810 N/A N/A

Pet insurance should cover illness caused by pet food

If your cat was being fed a product affected by the recall for a medical reason, contact your vet to discuss the best alternative. If your cat wasn't being fed a product affected by the recall for a medical reason, switch to a different cat food. 

Insurance trade body the Association of British Insurers told us that pet insurance will cover the cost of veterinary treatment for illness caused by pet food or food poisoning. However, if you do have to claim, make sure to be aware of the excess first - this is the amount you'll have to pay towards any claim.

If you aren't able to afford pet insurance and your cat is sick, you can get in touch with charity the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals, which may be able to provide support. You can contact it via its website or by calling 0800 917 2509. Fold Hill Foods told us that given investigations are still on-going it won't speculate on covering the cost of vets bills or paying compensation. 

Pet owners who think their cat may have been affected can also complete the RVC's survey, which it has created for research purposes after the spike in cases. Dr Barbara Glanemann, a senior lecturer in small animal medicine at the RVC, said: "Given the rarity of this condition, the clustering of these cases is concerning. Investigations in our cases have not revealed any identifiable underlying cause so far.

"Speaking to several colleagues in general practice and other referral hospitals around the country we are currently aware of about another 40 to 50 affected cats. The cats are severely unwell, have spontaneous bleeding and require often multiple transfusion for stabilisation prior to any investigation being possible."

You can return any of the recalled products to the retailer for a full refund

You can return any of the recalled products to the retailer you bought them from and you will receive a refund, even if you don't have a receipt. 

If you have any further questions regarding the products, or want to complain, you can contact the brands involved directly:

  • If you have bought an Applaws product visit Applaws' website for details on how to get in touch. 
  • If you have bought an AVA product contact Pets At Home via the online contact form on its help page or via live chat. 
  • If you have bought a Sainsbury’s product visit Sainsbury's website for info on how to get in touch or call its customer careline on 0800 636262.
  • If you've bought a Wilko product you can contact your local Wilko store or call the Wilko customer care line for free on 08000 329 329. 

A spokesperson for Applaws said: "At this stage it is not clear what is the cause of an increase in cases of feline pancytopenia, but it may be related to diet. We continue to work with the Royal Veterinary College to identify the potential cause."

A spokesperson for Pets At Home added: "The health and wellbeing of pets is our top priority, which is why we are supporting the manufacturer’s product recall of AVA and Applaws dry cat food ranges."

A spokesperson for Sainsbury's said: "We are not willing to take any risks where the safety of our products is concerned and so we are voluntarily recalling these products and asking customers not to use them and to return the packs to their nearest Sainsbury’s store for a full refund. We are sorry for the inconvenience this may cause."

A spokesperson for Wilko added: "While there is no evidence our products have been affected we are voluntarily recalling a selection of Wilko branded dry products as a precautionary measure."

What does the FSA and Fold Hill Foods say?

In a statement on the FSA's website, a government spokesperson said: "Working with the Royal Veterinary College, the Animal Plant and Health Agency and other government departments across all four nations of the UK, local authorities and the pet food supply chain, we are investigating a possible link between specific cat food products and feline pancytopenia. There is no definitive evidence to confirm a link at this stage."

Ben Mankertz, general manager at Fold Hill Foods Ltd added: "As one of the leading pet food manufacturers in the UK, ensuring your pet’s safety is our priority and therefore we have chosen to recall the ranges of cat food that we manufacture for the brands that have been identified. We feel this is the safest course of action until an exact cause of the issue has been found."

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