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What is Pancytopenia in cats, and is it linked to pet food?

on June 30, 2021


Pancytopenia is usually a very rare condition in cats. It caused by suppression of bone marrow, the material that produces new blood cells. This results in a deficiency in all three types of blood cells; red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. There are many possible factors that can affect normal bone marrow, including infectious diseases, cancers or toxins.


What are the symptoms of pancytopenia in cats?

The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) has published a list of symptoms for owners to look out for:


Lethargy, weakness
Loss of appetite
Spontaneous bruising or bleeding

Your cat may also have pale gums and the bleeding may be from the mouth, nose or in the urine or stools (the stools will look black and tarry).


Why have some brands of dry cat food been recalled?

Sadly there has been a recent spike of pancytopenia cases in the UK. The RVC have been taking detailed histories of the affected cats and the only thing they all had in common was they were eating dry cat food produced in the same factory.  A spokesperson for the RVC said:

“After noticing an increase in cats presenting with pancytopenia (a severe reduction in all major types of blood cells) in May, we have been gathering data from UK vets from these affected cats. Based on the evidence to date, the one aspect of these cases that formed a consistent pattern was the diet of the affected individuals."

After being contacted by the RVC the manufacturer voluntarily recalled three brands of cat food. You can find out which brands and batches have been recalled here:
We would like to assure owners that Vet’s Kitchen cat food is not affected by the recall or linked to any cases of pancytopenia.

What should I do if my cat has been eating the recalled food?

Adrian Caunter BSc BVSc PgC SAS MRCVS*, Head Vet at Vet’s Klinic advises :

“if you are concerned you are feeding your cat with one of the batches that are affected then stop and contact your vet for further advice. The blood tests to check for pancytopenia are relatively inexpensive and quick to perform and as the mortality rate seems to unfortunately be high with this condition early investigation and treatment may have a better outcome. This is a new and emerging picture though and this advice might change as we learn more”.


Is the Vet’s Kitchen cat food still safe?

Vet’s kitchen cat food is made at a different factory to the recalled cat foods, and is not associated with the pancytopenia cases. We would like to reassure owners that all our ingredients are subject to numerous quality checks to ensure safety, nutritional, quality and legal compliance.

.Each ingredient has an individual tailor-made testing regime determined by detailed risk assessments prior to purchase. The ingredient specifications and testing schedules are regularly reviewed and updated in line with new developments within the food and pet feed industry.


Where can I find further information?

The RVC is publishing regular updates about the investigation, which you can find here:  However, if you have any concerns about the health of your cat, please contact your vet as soon as possible.


Adrian Caunter


*Adrian qualified with distinction from Bristol University in 2006 and also has a degree in veterinary pathology. He has worked as a small animal vet since graduating. Adrian has a particular interest in Emergency and Critical Care, Soft tissue surgery and Feline Medicine but also finds applying a holistic approach to chronic ongoing problems rewarding. As Clinical Director, Adrian embraces Vets Klinic's philosophy of openness and education to prevent problems and regularly produces both on-line videos and written articles to share his vet know-how.