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Pet food scare hits Laguna

A recall of numerous brands of pet food has panicked pet owners nationwide, and one Laguna Beach cat owner believes her pet may be a victim of a tainted product.

Jennifer Hart said she fed her Persian house cat Winslow a pouch of Priority brand wet cat food on Friday, March 16.

That was the day Menu Foods recalled 42 brands of cat food and 53 brands of dog food. One of the brands recalled was Priority.

Hart said Winslow began throwing up in the middle of the night and was lethargic the next day.


He also suffered seizures throughout the rest of the weekend until Hart took him to the veterinarian Monday. She said Dr. James Levin was forced to put the cat to sleep.

Levin was unavailable to confirm whether the death was related to the food.

Hart said she found out about the recall when she went to the Pavilions market where she purchased the food and complained that one of her cats was sick and the other wouldn’t eat it.

Hart said she was surprised because Winslow was a relatively young cat at only 5 years old, and in good health.


“We’ve kind of been in shock, and it’s starting to wear off and we’re starting to get angry about it,” Hart said.

Hart said she is considering joining a class action lawsuit that is being filed against Menu Foods.

The recall is only for canned or pouched wet foods of the “Cuts and Gravy” variety that Menu Foods manufactured between Dec. 3, 2006 and March 6, 2006.

According to, the animal deaths may be linked to a substance called wheat gluten.

The website said the few known pet deaths from the food came from kidney failure and that more deaths are expected.

Menu Foods sells its pet food under numerous private labels including IAMS, Sophisticat, Paws, Priority and Eukanuba.

Veterinarian Dr. John Hamil of Canyon Animal Hospital said the hospital has been receiving many phone calls from worried pet owners, but has not had any bona fide cases of illness related to the food.

“We have gotten quite a large number of calls from people whose dogs have some vague symptoms,” Hamil said.


Hamil said so little is known about why the gluten is causing the deaths that there’s no way to treat it yet, which is dangerous when so many companies sell one type of food under different labels.

“Everyone buys the same stuff from the same company and slaps their label on it and says they have the best brand,” he said.

Hamil said the biggest companies that buy in large bulk will be the ones most affected. He said the best course of action is to use dry foods instead of food in cans or pouches for the time being.

More information about what brands of food have been recalled is available online at .