A Victim of Tainted Food - In Memory of Frisky -

On March 29, 1996 we were blessed to receive one of God’s furry little angels. We named him Frisky. It just suited him. The love we felt for him was immeasurable. Unfortunately, he fell victim to the tainted food and after a major seizure from renal failure, we had to say goodbye to our loyal pet on February 2, 2007.He was 10 years and 10 months.

I’ll start at the beginning. We adopted Cuddles, the mother cat, who was no longer wanted by her family because they were moving out of the province. When the SPCA informed us that “he” was a “she” and a pregnant one at that, I wasn’t so sure what to do. My son, eight at the time, begged me to keep her and I gave in with the intention of finding homes for her litter.But Cuddles was such a young mother and only two kittens lived. I held Frisky and Furball in my hands, two jet-black cats. They were beautiful. However, Cuddles rejected Furball, who was tiny and had a narrow oesophagus. For two months, I had to feed him with an eyedropper. His hind legs were crippled and he could only drag himself on the floor. Consequently, we decided to put him down because the Vet said that he could not continue to live in this condition. It broke our hearts.

Meanwhile, Frisky was double his brother’s size and continued to prosper. He loved to play, as do all kittens. Any opened drawer was an invitation for adventure. We fell in love with him and decided to keep this bright eyed, bushy tailed energetic ball of fur. When he was six months old, we renovated our home by adding a basement and Frisky got a taste of the outside world. He was such a good boy and never gave us a hard time. My husband always said that Frisky earned his keep. He was so loving. We shared a special bond and every single time I’d see him, I’d feel all “warm and fuzzy” on the inside. No matter if my daughter or son or even I had a tough day, we could always count on Frisky’s soulful eyes and unconditional love for us. He always greeted us with plenty to say. He was there for us 24/7. He loved to be petted and enjoyed hanging out with us. Frisky was quite comfy sitting just like a human. Growing up with my son during his teenage years, he’d often listen to music with him. At night, Frisky would sit on my lap and relax. For ten years, he was my alarm clock and he warmed my soul every time I’d see his furry little face. As well, when I’d come home, he would always be the first to greet me. Cuddles and Frisky grew very close and truly enjoyed each other’s company. Then one day last summer, my neighbour informs me that Frisky was in a fight with a fox double his size and I should check him. The only thing I noticed was a cut on his nose. I called my Vet to ask if I should be worried about rabies or anything else regarding his health. Foxes make meals out of cats; mine was lucky to be alive. However, that marked the end of his hunting days. He knew his limits. His nose became infected and his appetite had decreased but after a visit to the clinic, he was treated for a tapeworm and put on antibiotics. Like a child, a cat will turn against the food that is causing him stomach discomforts. For ten and ½ years, I fed my cats the dry Purina Cat Chow, which keeps the urinary tract working properly, but after the tapeworm incident, I had to change his food. So last fall, I bought Whiskas pouches and Friskies can cat food. Both cats devour every meal. Frisky is doing so well and regained some of the weight that he had lost. But soft food was getting rather costly for two cats so I find a better deal in the generic foil pouches. Therefore, by Xmas we separate the two feeding Frisky in another room because he loved the gravy so much. Cuddles was eating a variety of other food. Little did we know what was about to develop.

I ignored the vomiting at first because I just thought he was eating too fast. Then he preferred the gravy over the morsels. I began to notice a change in his eyes. He looked different, tired and as I pet him, he’s losing weight very rapidly. He was sure urinating a lot, so I thought he was getting enough fluid from the gravy. Little did I know, these were the signs of kidney failure. Frisky’s health was deteriorating at a fast pace. He would meow going downstairs to his litter box and I noticed him falling on the last step. I moved the litter box upstairs and called the Vet for an appointment. By this time he had refused to eat and hid down the hall. He stopped purring and became withdrawn. What happened to my happy cat just a few weeks ago? I had to coax and beg him to eat by bringing him the water bowl and food. Then he’d take a few licks from the side of his nose. I noticed a horrible smell on his breath. Also, his nose was completely dry, dehydrated. On January 31, 2007 Frisky weighed in at a scary 4.9 lbs. He was given electrolytes because he was so weak. He had no muscle mass left in his tiny body. That was the cause of his paws falling to the side when he would try to stand up. The blood test results showed renal failure and in the advanced stages. ALB was 21, the UREA was 46.4 the CREA was 547 and PHOS 5.19. Renal failure? I was in shock! How could this be? I fed him dry Purina Cat Chow for ten and ½ years to prevent kidney failure! Was it because I changed his diet to soft food? I remember asking my Vet, but at that time, no one suspected tainted food. He had no explanation other than, usually when blood work is done, the readings are never this high until the very end. What? My cat is dying? How long does he have? Well, it depends on Frisky, I’m told. If he eats low protein food, takes special antacid, his antibiotics, maybe a month or two, maybe less. Had we noticed seizures? Well, not at the time, but how would we know if all three of us are at work? So at this point, I’m thinking is there still hope for my dying cat? But the next day would be the one my son would never forget.

On February 1, I had to work and my son who usually is scheduled on Thursdays was off that day and assures me that he will watch Frisky. By mid-afternoon, I receive a phone call and started to cry at work because our beloved cat had a major seizure. Drooling from the mouth and paralysed on one side, Frisky’s limbs are locked and can only stand up with my son’s help after about twenty minutes. Witnessing this horrific event and hearing the frightening, painful meows that Frisky cried that day, never to be forgotten, my son convinces me to make an appointment to put him down in the morning. We love him too much to see him suffer any longer. But I don’t have enough time to say goodbye and I’m not ready to leave him go. And how will my daughter who lives out of town say goodbye? She had feared that he would have a seizure and had already advised me to euthanize him the night of the blood test results. My parents and husband also agreed with her and said that we shouldn’t let him suffer any more.

That night, we set up the web cam and my daughter was able to say goodbye to Frisky. We were so devastated but knew we had to do the humane thing. I couldn’t stop crying. His body was so pitiful. It hurt when we touched him. His head was so weak now that it would fall in the water bowl. His tiny body was so lifeless after the seizure. He stumbled as he walked and kept falling in the litter box. Now knowing what was happening, he was so brave until the end. Strangely, he stood at the door and asked to go out that night. I remembered it was snowing and mild. I held him in my arms as he sneezed, taking in little breaths of fresh air and looking out into the dark at his surrounds for one last time. Frisky spent a quiet night and I spent most of it crying. Can you imagine? Wednesday, we find out our cat has advanced kidney failure. Thursday, he takes a turn for the worse with that seizure, and Friday, we decide to put him down. What a shock!

The next morning, we took a soft vinyl cushion to put on the cold stainless steel table at the vet clinic. My son explained the seizure to the Vet and he informed us that Frisky would have died naturally, probably by Sunday. That’s only two days away, I remember telling him. I asked about the bad breath. That was the kidneys failing and the poisonous toxins releasing through the bloodstream. I asked why he wanted to go outside and he said that animals have a built in instinct that when they know that they are dying, they’ll ask to go out to die. He expressed that Frisky was a lot closer to the end and would have taken one last seizure that we would not want to witness, being the horrible, agonizing painful death of renal failure. I knew at that moment that we had made the right decision. No more suffering for our beloved family member! Our Vet was kind and patient giving us the time we needed to say goodbye. My son broke down, saying goodbye was the most difficult thing ever. It was hard to say farewell to his little buddy for nearly eleven years of his life, growing up with him. We told Frisky over and over how much we loved him and how good and loyal he was, the best pet ever, so kind, so loving, so special, one of a kind best friend. Once again, with my hand, I held his now tired, sleepy head. I held him in my hand when he entered the world and I would be there and hold him in my hand once again when he left this world. He was always there for us, now it was our turn to return the favour. As difficult as it was, I couldn’t bear the thought of him dying alone. It was much better this way. Frisky passed away peacefully on February 2, 2007-05-19.


Our home hasn’t been the same since. I have cried so much and I’m still crying. When I come home, I no longer see that furry little face waiting to greet me. His favourite chair remains empty. I go outside and for a brief moment I expect to see him. I can no longer pet him or cuddle with him. I miss him so much, my heart aches. Any of you who have lost a pet, know exactly what I’m talking about. Even the mother cat Cuddles cried for several days and looked everywhere for him. They were so close. Until that day, seeing the wet tears on her fur below her eyes, I had no idea that cats could actually cry like humans. She has been wanting a lot of attention since. Little did I know at the time that keeping her away from the food we fed Frisky, saved her life.

After the pet food recall, what would be the chances that I had purchased all three tainted products within that time span? Sure enough after contacting Menu Foods, I had done just that. I felt every feeling in the book, despair, helplessness, guilt, grief anger and more tears. And now to find out that it was the deliberate contamination of wheat gluten, just turns my stomach inside out. Why? Why? Why? Obviously they are not animal lovers! In conclusion, our pets are valuable members of our family. We need laws to protect them and especially safety in the food we feed them. Furthermore, I certainly do not agree with using cats to test the food either. Is there no other way? Please, all of you who have lost your pet to tainted food, I beg you to come forward and contact the Humane Society. The laws in Canada must be changed now! Together we can do it. Talk to your neighbours, your friends and you’d be surprised just how many animals it affected. In some strange way, it comforts me to know that Frisky didn’t die in vain and his story will help change the laws.