Cat Food Recalled for Possible Low Thiamine Levels

One of the most common and popular brands of cat food manufacturers, 9 Lives, has issued a recall on specific lot numbers of their cat food as a result of internal quality assurance testing. The problem with the cat food is a potential thiamine, or Vitamin B, content in the cans. While 9 Lives has been a well-respected and reliable supplier of cat food and general pet food products for decades, this problem, though limited in scope, should bring concern to every 9 Lives cat food consumer.

Signs and Symptoms

If your cat is showing early signs of thiamine deficiency you need to stop feeding them the 9 Lives brand and switch to another. Some of the things to watch for are a cat who has lost its interest in eating, excessive saliva coming its mouth (this is one of the more obvious signs as cats, unlike dogs, tend not to drool), vomiting, and noticeable weight loss. Younger cats may show evidence of a failure to grow. If you think the problem is severe and warrants a trip to the veterinarian, schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

Not every 9 Lives cat food product is being recalled. There are two in question:

  • Protein Plus with Tuna and Chicken with a UPC code of 7910021549
  • Protein Plus with Tuna and Liver with a UPC code of 7910021748

The company is telling owners of these products to throw out any open cans of food and to return unopened 4 packs of cans to the supermarket for exchange or refund. You can also contact the company directly by calling 1-888-569-6828, Monday through Friday, between 8 A.M. and 6 P.M. Eastern Time.

Why is the recall necessary?

Cats, especially those that are kept indoor all the time, need to have a certain amount of thiamine for normal neurological functioning. Without the proper amount of thiamine they may have lesions appear in their brain, resulting in some of the above mentioned symptoms. However, this condition is not permanent as a study by the National Institute of Health showed that cats with lesions who are given increased doses of thiamine are able to recover within a 2 to 3 week period.

Cats get the majority of their thiamine from their canned cat food, and require three times as much thiamine than a dog to remain healthy. One mistake many cat owners make is to feed their cat a diet too high in carbohydrates, i.e. dry cereal, for food which can also result in the thiamine deficiency. But even owners who feed their cat canned food can see the above symptoms occur because the number of incidents involving canned cat food being recalled for a lack of thiamine have increased over recent years.

Other warnings for cat owners

Since thiamine is no critical to a cat’s health, there are several types of foods that actually counteract the effect of thiamine or completely destroy the essential nutrient. Owners who feed their cats significant amounts of raw fish (not the canned variety) need to be cautious as the raw fish contains thiaminase, a substance that actually destroys the thiamin in the cat’s body. A second culprit is feeding your cat foods that contain sulfites. Sulfites neutralize the beneficial effects of thiamine and also result in thiamine deficiency.

Beware of fad diets that have become popular at times when people are watching animal shows that advertise a specific kind of diet. Of recent vintage is an all vegan cat food that resulted in owners being cautioned to avoid such diets because they have the potential to harm the cat. There are responsible companies that have sold vegan cat food for years, but ensure the necessary amounts of thiamine have been added to ensure the safety of the cat. Be sure to check the ingredient label on the package before feeding it to your cat.

Why there has been an increase in the release of thiamine deficient cat food is somewhat of a mystery. Quality checks are a normal part of every food approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who also oversees the quality of many pet foods. This consumer alert was prompted by the FDA, who you can contact for any further information.


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