By Beth Hillyer
KANEOHE (KHNL) - A Windward Oahu family is doing their best to nurse their family cat, Mana, back to health after he ate some of the newly recalled food. Owners say their vet told them the 20 pound cat needs to lose weight and prescribed "Hill's Science Diet Prescription M/D Feline".
His owners say a week ago the cat started acting strangely and hiding in dark places around the house. They took him to the vet last night and learned his cat food was the latest brand to be recalled.
Owner Vi Wong is upset. "I thought we were safe because it was not wet food Mana takes, only dry food." She's referring to the massive pet food recall of about two weeks ago when Menu Foods recalled tainted wet food for dogs and cats, in which some animals suffered kidney failure. Some pets got sick; others died.
The vet says Mana should be ok, but to keep him under observation, especially because at 14 years old he is considered a senior. "I was very afraid because I love that cat so much. He is like family," says Wong. Vets say it seems very young and very old pets have been at greatest risk for illness related to the suspect pet food.
Hills Pet Nutrition announced it is recalling its prescription diet feline dry food yesterday evening. The company said the food contained wheat gluten provided by a company that also supplied wheat gluten to Menu Foods, the firm that initiated the earlier recall. It did not say whether any pet illnesses had been associated with the food. This is the first time the recall includes dry pet food.
Nestlé Purina Petcare also late Friday said it was recalling all sizes and varieties of its Alpo prime cuts in gravy wet dog food with specific date codes. The company said it, too, learned it received wheat gluten from the same company.
Purina's recalled products include: 13.2-ounce and 22-ounce alpo prime cuts cans and 6-, 8-, 12- and 24-can alpo prime cuts variety packs. They have four-digit code dates of 7037 through 7053, followed by the plant code 1159. Those codes follow a "best before Feb. 2009" date. This information should be checked on the bottom of the can or the top or side of the multi-pack cartons.
Purina's 5.3-ounce Mighty Dog pouch products, manufactured by Menu Foods, were previously withdrawn from the market as a precaution on March 16 as part of the Menu Foods recall. No Purina dry pet foods were affected by either recall.
Also, the FDA says it found chemicals in the tainted food. There are still major questions left unanswered, and the FDA admits there is a lot of confusion. Federal officials are at a loss to explain exactly what went wrong.
The FDA says it's found a chemical called melamine - fertilizer and plastics agent- in certain pet foods containing wheat gluten from a supplier in China. It earlier thought the pesticide aminopterin, a rat poision, was at fault.
In a news conference Friday, FDA announced that its labs had detected melamine in samples of the pet food, in the wheat gluten used to make it and in the urine and kidneys of cats injured by it. FDA investigators are not certain how melamine would sicken or kill dogs and cats; there is little scientific information available about melamine exposure in animals.
As investigators continue working towards solving the pet food supply problem, what are some vets telling pet owners to do? Dr. Bruce Akey of Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine advises, "If you are really concerned then feed your pet a home made diet for a few days or a few weeks and give this thing a chance to take its course."
Exactly how many pets have been affected by the tainted food remains unclear. The FDA is only confirming the deaths of approximately 14 pets, but says it's received over 8,800 complaints, now being reviewed. The FDA said Friday the agency is now testing 100% of incoming wheat gluten supplies from China.
The affected products:
- Prescription DietTM M/DTM feline dry food, 4 pound bag, 52742 42770(all lot numbers)
- Prescription DietTM M/DTM feline dry food, ten pound bag, 52742 42790(all lot numbers)