Contaminated Pet Food Linked To 30% Increase In Feline Kidney Failure

ABC news is reporting a 30% increase in kidney failure among cats during the 3 months that contaminated pet food was sold in the US. The data was compiled from a database of 615 veterinary hospitals.

The veterinary hospital chain saw 1 million dogs and cats during the three months when the more than 100 brands of now-recalled contaminated pet food were sold. It saw 284 extra cases of kidney failure among cats during that period, or a roughly 30 percent increase when compared with background rates. It’s not clear if those animals ate the contaminated food, though it seems likely.

“It has meaning, when you see a peak like that. We see so many pets here, and it coincided with the recall period,” said veterinarian Hugh Lewis, who oversees the mining of Banfield’s database to do clinical studies. The chain continues to share its data with the Food and Drug Administration.


Tainted Pet Food-Kidney Illness Link
[ABC News]
(Photo: Lazy Lightening)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Citron says:

    My grandmother’s pudgy tomcat died recently because of the tainted food. It’s sad. He was a mean fatty, but we all really did love him.

  2. bluegus32 says:

    Man, I’m going to regret starting this fight. But once again let’s analyze the actual information available. I have no reason to dispute Banfield’s numbers so I will accept them as true for the sake of argument. However, the reporting of the numbers remains misleading. A 30% increase of kidney failure during the relevant time period. That sounds horrific. It is statisticaly significant, but this kind of reporting just needlessly scares people.

    Banfield reports that during the time period that the tainted food was on the shelves, they treated 1,000,000 animals. Of those, 284 died of kidney failure, a purported 30% increase over that which they would have expected during a normal period. Doing the math shows that normally, without tainted food, they see 218 cases of kidney failure naturally (284 is a 30% increase over 218.) So, in any given 3 month period, they see 218 kidney failure deaths completely unrelated to tainted food.

    Which means that if their figures are correct, then they have seen a grand total of 66 animals out of 1,000,000 who died of kidney failure as the result of tainted food.

    Is this tragic? Tes. Are we facing an epidemic such as to justify the amount of fear being peddled by the media? No way.

    For all of those who are right now angry about what I’m saying, please understand that I am a pet lover. I have many pets myself. And this situation certainly merits investigation so that it won’t be repeated. But the misinformation being peddled by the media is simply irresponsible. The entire nation seems to be scared. In fact, the last time I got into this debate around here, people were genuinely afraid of the notion that people food had been contaminated, a report which had been based upon speculation and had no proof.

    All I’m saying is that we should take news reports with a grain of salt. When I learned of all of this, I took appropriate measures to ensure that my animals did not eat any of the known tainted foods. After that, I was done being concerned. Certainly, this near-mass-hysteria needs to stop.

  3. That’s an interesting point bluegus32…

    To take your stats and run with them a bit, then that means:

    0.0218% of every million cats treated have died from kidney failure.

    Then the actual raw increase in deaths per 1,000,000 treated felines would be…



  4. Indecision says:

    @bluegus32: “Doing the math shows that normally, without tainted food, they see 218 cases of kidney failure naturally…”

    Actually, the article says they say 218 extra cases of kidney failure, meaning they normally see 726 cases in the average three-month period.

    So, they could attribute 218 deaths out of a million to this food, not 66.

    Still a very small percentage, of course. And also still tragic for those extra 218.

  5. BMR says:

    You swing too far the other way – this is just one chain, these are just reported cases. You can’t judge the existence or absence of an epidemic based on this info.
    Your warning is appropriate, but since when is a group of people caring about their animals health, hysteria? I say it is about time. I don’t see anyone screaming from pet food store – awareness is not hysteria.

    And by the way, the only way you can rest easy, is to stop feeding your animals ANY of the brands that use wheat gluten in their products – period. It is better for them anyway.

  6. snazz says:

    hmmm, another cat photo… im noticing a trend.

  7. BMR says:

    the million was total cat and dogs treated. they don’t call out specific number for cats treated.

    why would anyone waste their time bothering to make the amount of cats who died look trivial. is that worth any effort? I bet the first commenters grandmother feels better knowing that the actual percentage of deaths was trivial.

  8. Citron says:

    @snazz: Bring it on. For one day, all the photos on Consumerist should be cat-themed. I will be so happy.

  9. bambino says:

    @snazz: This one’s actually relevant.

  10. oldhat says:


    Yeah, you got socked right in the eye, you little pussy!

  11. bluegus32 says:

    @BMR: You said, “Your warning is appropriate, but since when is a group of people caring about their animals health, hysteria?”

    You are absoluletly right. Having knowledge and making informed decisions thereon is always a good thing. And of the news reports I’ve seen, the Consumerist tends to be the most responsible about. But take a snot-rag like the SF Chronicle and read some of their articles. Not only did they try to convince you that this is truly an epidemic, they also tried to convince that people were in grave danger because the same wheat gluten producers had tainted our own food. There was but one single case of a woman who claimed to be injured from tainted pet food, but it was entirely confirmed, was never commented on by her doctors, and her subsequent blood work never revealed.

    There are many newspapers around the country that are trying to scare the hell out of people. And that’s what I have a problem with.

    Then we have the flip side — people like you who seem to do their best to distill whatever truth they can from the news and then take appropriate and responsible measures to protect themselves and their animals. That is to be commended.

  12. bluegus32 says:

    never confirmed. That’s what I meant to say. Damn.

  13. LAGirl says:

    not sure if they post all the cat photos just to f*ck with us, or if they really are just a bunch of crazy cat ‘ladies’.

    and yes, i do know that a kitty picture is appropriate in this case.

  14. ConsumptionJunkie says:


    It all started last x-mas. A cat pic with the words “i’m in yur tree…” Then, a post about the Pope not blessing KFC fish snackers. Now, a FLURRY of cat pics.

    !!!!! WHAT THA #$&@ !!!!!

    I love the cat pics, but is there some kind of Da-Vinci-Code-like conspiracy?

  15. glascoed says:

    Are numbers being inflated for GRANT purposes or is my cat really ill?
    I don’t think Banfield’s numbers are credible and at best ‘questionable’. I took my 3 year old cat to Banfield for a dental cleaning. They called and told me that they had done a routine orgran screen and the Doctor had chosen not to do the cleaning because my cats kidney’s were dsyfunctional in a manner consistent with effects of Menufood. However, my cat has eaten Purina Cat Chow and Friskies all of his life, neither are on the recall list. I then went in to pick up my cat’s medical records to take to another vet for a second opinion. As I was standing at the counter I saw a form which read in paraphrase “Banfield …Grant Application … Menufood’. So the question I have is are numbers being inflated for Grant purposes? or Is is my cat really ill? I’ll find out soon enough. I see the second opinion vet tonight.