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Local cats die from bad food
Both killed after eating Menu Foods items that have since been recalled

By Eric Fleischauer · 340-2435

Her best efforts did not save two local cats, and veterinarian Jan Strother, fears many more will succumb to kidney failure caused by popular gravy-based pet foods, sold under many different labels and contaminated with an as-yet unknown toxin.

Strother said both cats had normal kidney function tests within the last year, and both had eaten food that Canada-based Menu Foods has since recalled.

The best guess so far, Strother said, is that the culprit is a contaminant in the wheat gluten used to make the gravy most commonly seen in foods with meat chunks and gravy. Such foods are sold in cans or foil packets. The foods have killed both dogs and cats, although cats seem to be most vulnerable.

“This is a serious recall,” Strother said. “Don’t ignore it.”

Meow Mix not on recall list

The list of suspect foods is long, but Meow Mix — which has a plant in Decatur — is not on it. The local plant produces only dry food.

“The Food Menus recall does not impact the Meow Mix label, or any other pet food or snack produced or distributed by Del Monte Pet Products,” Mary G. Sestric, spokesperson for Meow Mix owner Del Monte, said Tuesday.

Strother said pet owners should avoid meat-and-gravy type foods until investigators determine the ingredient that is causing kidney failure. For animals that do not like dry food, she recommended that owners moisten the food until it becomes “soft and spongy.”

If you think your pet has eaten foods included on the recall list, Strother recommended immediately taking it to the veterinarian.

“A simple blood test or urinalysis can show signs of kidney damage,” Strother said. Caught early, the problem is treatable. “We don’t want people to panic, but we want them to be informed.”

Symptoms associated with kidney damage include the following, Strother said:

  • An ammonia odor from their mouth.

  • Unusual lethargy.

  • Poor appetite.

  • Vomiting.

  • Diarrhea.

  • Urine with an unusually strong smell.

    Strother cautioned pet owners to use care if abandoning commercial foods altogether.

    “You can’t just feed them hamburgers and rice,” she said. Making food for your pet is a viable option, she said, but input from a veterinarian on what should be included in the homemade diet is important.

    Those commercial foods that may be contaminated include several brands sold at Wal-Mart and Kroger, and include high-end pet foods such as Science Diet, Iams and Nutro products. Publix and Ol’ Roy dog foods are also on the list.

    For a complete list of recalled items, go to or call 1-866-895-2708.

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