Recalled pet food may have claimed life of Canadian cat

Pet food recalled by one of North America's largest suppliers may have claimed its first Canadian victim — a seven-month-old cat in Toronto.

Pet food recalled by one of North America's largest suppliers may have claimed its first Canadian victim— a seven-month-old cat in Toronto.

The owner told CBC News on Monday that her second cat is now clinging to life after eating the food.

On Friday, Menu Foods, based in Streetsville, west of Toronto, recalled some of the premium dog and cat food it sells through stores such as Wal-Mart and Safeway after several animal deaths in the United States.

Menu Foods is conducting tests through Cornell University in New York state to determine what caused kidney failure in nine cats and one dog that ate its "cuts and gravy" style pet food.

On Friday, the companysaid the recall of its products sold in cans and pouches was precautionary.

In Toronto, Jovana Kovacevic said her seven-month-old cat, Djole, became lethargic and stopped eating two weeks ago. Her vet tried to save him, but his kidney failure was too advanced.

"I was devastated," she told CBC News.

Now her second cat, four-month-old Tosa, is on intravenous medication and is struggling to survive.

Kovacevic said she fed her cats one of the 50 brands of "cuts and gravy" pet food sold by Menu Foods after buying it at Sobey's in Toronto.

She's said she'sbeen trying to reach the company since Friday, when it announced its recall.

"They have a hotline— it's busy all the time or the number is saying it's not working," she said.

The company didn't return CBC's callson Monday.

Menu Foods, one of the leading North American private-label and contract manufacturers of wet pet-food products, produced more than one billion containers last year.

It supplies its products to 17 of the top 20 retailers in North America for sale under store labels such as Master Choice, Compliments and Select, and it manufactures for several national brands.

Starting in December, concerns began filtering back to the company through toll-free customer lines about its "cuts and gravy" style pet food.

Callers complained their animals had fallen ill, though no direct link to the food was established.

Menu Foods has posted a list of products affected by the recall on its website.

The company said it discovered that "timing of the production associated with these complaints coincides with the introduction of an ingredient from a new supplier." It says it stopped using this ingredient shortly after this discovery.

The recall affects products made between Dec. 3, 2006, and March 6 at two of its American facilities in Emporia, Kan., and Pennsauken, N.J. Menu's other plants are in North Sioux City, S.D., and Streetsville, Ont.

The Menu Foods customer service hotline can be reached at 866-895-2708 for more information on what brands were affected.

With files from the Canadian Press