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Pancytopenia is a disease that occurs when a cat has very low white and red blood cell counts. Heartbreakingly, pancytopenia can be fatal, so it is important to be vigilant to the signs and symptoms in pet cats.
More than 440 cats have recently been diagnosed with pancytopenia and 284 cats have died, according to ITV news.
A recall was issued in June for several cat food products, while the Food Standards Agency (FSA) investigates a possible link with cats affected by the illness.
A spokesperson for the Food Standards Agency 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.
“No unsafe cat food has been identified but the manufacturer and brand owners affected, based on investigations so far, are taking the precautionary action of recalling and withdrawing cat food products that have been linked to affected cats.
“There is no evidence to suggest this outbreak of feline pancytopenia presents any risk to human health.”
Further information about the cat food products being recalled can be found on the Food Standards Agency website HERE.
What are the causes of pancytopenia in cats?
A link between certain cat food products and pancytopenia is currently under investigation.
The illness may be caused by anaemia, bleeding, or other conditions such as sepsis or cancer of the blood or bones.
Toxins can cause pancytopenia in cats, as can certain infectious diseases like feline AIDS (FIV) and feline leukaemia (FeLV).
When investigating whether a cat has pancytopenia, vets will run a blood test to analyse a cat’s blood cell count.
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What are the symptoms of pancytopenia in cats?
Vets are warning owners to be vigilant for signs of lethargy, loss of appetite or unusual bleeding in their cats.
According to animal charity, Blue Cross, mild symptoms of pancytopenia in cats can include:
- lack of appetite
- pale gums
More serious signs of pancytopenia include:
- bleeding from their mouth
- black poo or blood in their poo
- blood in their wee
- sick containing blood
Anyone who notices any signs of pancytopenia in their cats or is worried about their pet should speak to their vet immediately.
Some cats do not show any symptoms of pancytopenia, so in multi-cat households, all cats should be checked by a vet if one cat shows any symptoms of the illness.
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