Raw cat food recall: our cats ate some! Here’s what happened…

catfoodrecall Raw cat food recall: our cats ate some! Here's what happened...

RadCat is having a voluntary recall and we inadvertently fed our cats the contaminated food!

Yes, before the recall was announced, WE bought one of the offending foods (the Turkey – but Chicken and Beef were affected too).

And. Fed. It. To. Our. Cats.

Twice (sort of).


But first, don’t panic. We haven’t heard any tragic reports as a result of these bad batches, and it’s unlikely there will be any (more on why in a minute).

What I learned + what happened

Even the most compulsive eater of a cat will notice something is “off” before your human nose can detect it.

I was amazed that our cat Joel, who will rapidly wolf down every food known to man, ate a few bites and then walked away from this RadCat. Our other cat who loves RadCat wasn’t very interested either. But, they were hungry so they ate a few hesitant bites. Also, I put enticing sprinkles on it to encourage them! (Oh the horror!) I regret that I wasn’t suspicious, but I didn’t know about the recall and I had sniffed it myself and didn’t smell anything weird. Regrettably, they had a few bites the next day too. We will never make this mistake again!

Within 2-3 days, the contaminated food develops a more gummy texture and starts smelling AWFUL.

At this point, it becomes obvious to the human! (I’m so thankful that the cats could smell it before it was detectable to us.)

You may not see an illness reaction right away.

We thought our cats came through with flying colors, but then one threw up a whole meal a few days later, and the other cat did the same the following day. Listeria tends to take at least three days and sometimes even a few weeks to kick in. Salmonella takes 12 to 72 hours to show up. (The symptoms to watch for are vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy and/or fever. It is recommended that you contact a vet if your cat suffers from these symptoms.)

You may not see a reaction in your cat at all – you may have one though.

It’s uncommon for cats to become ill from Salmonella or Listeria because they have a very acidic digestive system that neutralizes a lot of bacteria and because they will avoid eating the bad food. They also can shed these bacteria in their feces without much fanfare. Our local holistic pet food store says it’s more common that the humans experience symptoms from handling bad cat food. Indeed, both my husband and I had an afternoon of mild nausea and abdominal cramping a few days after we handled the bad food. However, we may have been exposed through our cats more than through the food itself: infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect humans.

If you regularly add probiotics to your cat’s food, it’s probably going to help limit a reaction.

We frequently add probiotics to our cat’s food, and while they did each throw up once – it was only once, and…

…Recovery went well.

After we realized they had eaten the bad food, we observed them closely and gave them probiotics with every meal for a few weeks. We also had them skip a meal after they threw up and then gave them plain chicken bone broth for their next meal after that. (Important: make sure the broth contains NO garlic or onions, which can cause hemolytic anemia in cats. We chose bone broth because it has more digestive healing properties and protein than plain old meat broth.) By the next morning, they were hungry, ate heartily, and all has been well since.

Conclusions and observations

At the end of the day, I am relieved. The “worst” happened, we are all ok, and I learned that the risk is very limited, even if a healthy cat is exposed to the bacteria.

It does underscore the idea of avoiding raw food for cats with a compromised immune system though.

And, we are still fans of RadCat.

I am still convinced that raw food, done right, is one of the healthiest options for cats. Unlike cooked and processed food, it supplies active enzymes, making the nutrients highly available and the food more easily digestible.

And I still believe that RadCat is one of the best cat food options out there. I have no financial relationship with RadCat whatsoever, I just really think their simple, human-grade ingredients are superior and they do their best to do the right thing:

  • They run their own manufacturing plant.
  • They operate their plant under the same guidelines for human food facilities, which includes a quality assurance plan, and environmental and product testing programs.
  • They use an HACCP safety system, which is recognized by the USDA and FDA as preventive approach to food safety.
  • All of their meats are rinsed with ozonated water, which is an anti-microbial treatment and they use high pressure processing (HPP) to prevent bad bacteria.

So, how did this happen to RadCat then?

Here’s what they have to say about it: “Raw meat and poultry can contain pathogens, such as Salmonella and Listeria. This contamination can occur at the time of slaughter and be present on the meats and poultry when they enter our plant. There are tolerance levels for these pathogens in the human food chain, but no tolerance for raw pet food. That is why we have a comprehensive testing program and take intervention steps such as HPP and use ozone in our processing and sanitation.
As of this time, we have no definitive answer as to how these bacteria were found in our products. All of our testing with an independent third party lab has revealed clean results, which includes a comprehensive sampling of our food processing environment, which was sampled again, immediately after we were notified about the results from the FDA.”

If you’re concerned, go to RadCat’s FAQ to learn more and make sure you don’t have a tainted batch.

In the mean time, remember, if your cat suddenly seems repelled by a food he usually likes: the cat’s nose knows!

Love to hear your thoughtful thoughts! Leave a reply...


  1. It’s uncommon for cats to become ill from Salmonella or Listeria because they have a very acidic digestive system that neutralizes a lot of bacteria and because they will avoid eating the bad food.

    I had no idea about this because I am a new cat owner. This site looks very informative. I am gonna read all the articles.

  2. More than a shame this has happened to RadCat. My cats absolutely love it!

    Question: my one kitty (she’s 7) was sickly when I rescued her 6 weeks old, and is generally doing well, though she always always wants more food and I feed her well.

    Could giving her probiotics help address whatever imbalance may be occurring? I never see any parasites.

    1. Hi Wendy, excessive hunger could be a symptom of many things. Perhaps consider to bring her to the vet for a check up and a blood test. Also Rad Cat went out of business in October but if you go to their site they suggest some alternatives.

  3. We are struggling with this awful recall situation, right now. Radcat has just expanded their recall, and it was bad enough that they stopped producing venison. My cat would ONLY eat venison, so we’ve been beside ourselves trying to get him to eat. We’ve tried every possible alternate food, but he just refuses, despite being seriously hungry. So we had found that at least radcat beef, he would eat, begrudgingly, in small amounts, and now, even THAT has been recalled. And despite what I know we are “supposed” to do, I am continuing to feed it to my cat, because there is literally no other food I can give him. He’s acting fine, albeit still hungry because it’s not his venison. I am being faced with two impossible choices; either let him starve to death, or take the chance that his food was NOT contaminated, since the company is actually saying none of their actual food was contaminated and no cats have gotten sick. I’m desperate.

  4. Information (degrees in sciences, nutrition, holistic nutrition and chemistry of arts and more) says:

    Humans (and all animals) have a high stomach acids as well (otherwise your food would not be digested into “chum” before it goes into the upper intestines. Unless of course one takes anti-acids such as “txmms” to neutralize these acids (and force other organs to then produce the stomach acids – wearing them down to organ failure over time). Drinking plenty of water allows for certain cells to produce “mucoids” which line the stomach and protect the lining from these acids.

    I studied pre vet sciences long ago (could not kill the mice/frogs so moved to another area). I make my own raw holistic foods for the cats. I soak the meats with hydrogen peroxide (which is native to all mammals in Oxygen metabolism… (one should never drink it in juices for the enzyme which stops the process.)

    I have rescued cats most all of my life – none have gotten sick. As a child they ate while birds, rabbits, mice rats and what ever they found. Healthy and lived to ripe old ages – one up to age 21.

    “Catalase is a common enzyme found in nearly all living organisms exposed to oxygen It catalyzes the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen.”

  5. Oh my gosh, I just saw this. I visit your site and a couple of others before placing my large food orders to see if anything has changed with the brands we rotate ingredients-wise, recalls, ect.. So glad I did!

    Upon reading your article, I have to admit, I thought perhaps you were ascribing more meaning to the actions of your kitties than there actually was, or perhaps it was a coincidence – either way, certainly my 17 year old cat would not know the difference!

    I asked my boyfriend to pull our Rad Cat samples out of the freezer so I could look them over, and what do you know, we had the contaminated beef!

    But what was even more interesting – it was the ONLY container (we bought one of each protein) that was still full. I had remembered there was one he would have nothing to do with and made a mental note to check which one it was before reordering since it appeared he didn’t like it whatsoever.

    By golly, these dang cats DO know! I am truly in awe, and very thankful he didn’t eat any and that I saw your article before attempting to feed him the contaminated batch again (which we were planning to do this weekend!).

    Next time, I will be sure to have much more faith in your judgement and that of my kitty’s nose 🙂

  6. Nothing in the food industry is safe there’s so much corrupted people out in this world! My motto is trust no one and today and from before there were laws people have been breaking them! Protect your loved ones you are the only one who’s there to! This goes to doc’s too people make mistakes sometimes it causes us our loved ones!! I have people and animals that have died! So be vigilant! The people I love hate when I question or check ! I have problems with trust but in this world it’s sometimes the difference between life and death?! Sorry but this was scary for you! You did well! But I care!

  7. My cat has Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) and I was just recommended to use a few things to help her from having an “episode” (she just had one a few days ago that I was able to manage thankfully -I’m also in the process of getting a lot of what was recommended). But one product that I am going to invest in that is supposed to help her if she has another episode, and to help her in general, is called Urinary Gold for Feline Urinary Tract Health. I haven’t tried it yet but I am going to order it and start implementing it soon.

    Dr. Patricia Jordan recommended it to me and she does consultations (I did one with her not too long ago). She gave me a WEALTH of helpful information to help my little girl. This is a link to her website: http://dr-jordan.com/. I’ve already started to implement a few other things that she mentioned too and today my baby is doing better (thank God). Dr. Jordan was very prompt in responding and, seriously, she offered me PAGES of information after we spoke for my convenience (I didn’t have to take notes while we talked about everything). She has some free information on her website too.

    I hope this helps! I know how frustrated I’ve been for years trying to find more information to help her so I figured I’d pass along what I could.

    Also, I figured I’d mention in this reply that I appreciated the information I got from here too. I looked into Rad Cat because I am transitioning my girl to raw food and I wanted to know if anyone experienced issues directly related to the products they recalled. I can say that my search will end with this post. I also will be more aware of how she responds to her food now because, if it were me, I wouldn’t have a solid clue about why she’d dismiss the food. In the past, I’ve just eventually found her to not like certain (few) ingredients. And this being made VERY clear because she will not eat it. period. She isn’t a picky eater either. But she WILL assert her will to not eat long enough to tell me “Um, you need to go back to the store. Thanks mom”. 🙂

  8. Help! My cat’s ph has been very high lately. I just checked it now — it was at an 8.0!! I’m scared that my cat will develop crystals again at this rate. Should I be feeding him something other than Radcat beef? I try to give him mini meals diluted with distilled water three times a day to keep him hydrated. What else can I do?

  9. Thanks so much for the post about Radcat!! I’ve recently switched my two tabbies to Radcat from Primal, after one developed struvite crystals. They have a strong preference for Radcat beef — but it seems from reviewers that the turkey and chicken might be better options. Any thoughts?

  10. I’m so glad that everyone is ok now, and thanks for reporting this. I didn’t hear about the recall until your post. I still occasionally feed the Radcat turkey to one of my cats although l’ve also noticed like Ingrid, that he doesn’t like it as much since they switched to HPP.

    I’m no expert but I would suspect since they had issues with 3 flavors all the same time that it would be either an environmental or handling issue at there plant. Their site does say they do environmental testing but it seems unlikely that they would have 3 contaminated meat sources at the same time.

    I’ve contacted Radcat on separate occasions and they do seem to take a lot of pride in their products but it’s a bit unsettling that their site says they use a third party lab to do “test and hold lot segregation” but what happened here since the tainted products were actually released for sale?

    Well, thank goodness our kitty friends have a good sense and strong stomach acid so they can usually skirt issues like this. In the end it seems there are many more instances like this with the more processed foods like canned and dry foods than the raw foods.

  11. I’ve been feeding a raw meat diet to my 4 cats for 14 years & have never had a problem.Recently I decided to try the Organic chicken ( I normally use antibiotic free which costs less) They sniffed the Organic chicken & walked away. I put it in the fridge & waited till evening,they were all hungry. They ate a small amount & within 10 mins. they were all vomiting.Do you think the chicken was tainted? Or maybe they just didn’t do well with a different brand?

    1. Hi Katzen – was that organic chicken any particular brand…was it Radcat? If so, yes some of the Radcat Chicken was recalled as well. It certainly does sound like your cats ate some bad chicken and threw it right up (which is a good response)!

  12. I’m glad your kitties (and you and your husband) are okay. We feed Radcat, too, but didn’t have any of the affected batches.

    Sadly, recalls will happen. I believe that Radcat handled this recall the way a recall should be handled, and to me, that’s important.

    To CP above, who commented that her cats didn’t like the Radcat anymore: sadly, I’m seeing this with my own cats, too – and it started when Radcat switched to HPP processing. It’s not supposed to alter the flavor of the food, but to my cats, it clearly did.

  13. SOooo sorry you and your kitties had to go through that! How scary and what a worry for you about your babies! Even with our best intentions and our deep love and compassion, sometimes things happen anyway.. We know in our hearts it was not intensional.. Thank God they are still with you… I pray you and your family are doing ok now..hugs

    1. I appreciate that, Liz. What we now know is that this kind of thing isn’t really fatal — just can make you a sick! The REALLY scary recalls, to my mind, are not raw food bacteria ones – it’s ones tainted with fatal chemicals like melamine from cheap Chinese pet food sources https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melamine

  14. I am so delighted your babies are okay! They are so smart sometimes I wish they could talk! So glad you and your husband are better! I am so fearful of meat yet that’s what cat’s eat so they must know .,my cat tore a mouse apart and ate it before he became mine I tried to stop him but he just looked at me and thought lady leave me alone I’m eating my lunch! He kept coming back so now he is ours! I often think that maybe he wishes he could go back to that wild way his meal was warm! I hope you got the message out in time for all the darlings out there! I follow your food list! Thank-you for that!😾😸😺😽😻

  15. Two weeks ago I opened a new RadCat turkey (not part of recall) and both our [Maine Coon] cats literally walked way and would not touch it, nor the next day. They were suspicious of the chicken two days later but ate it (I flip flop birds every two day – they share 1/2 a 24 oz container each night). Then it was turkey time again. One of our cats sniffed suspiciously, then ate it although I had to use sprinkles (Ziwi Peak dried raw). Our other cat refused to touch it. He is eating the chicken and I am in the midst of trying to get him to trust the RadCat turkey again – had to start by putting a blob on a plate next to his dinner for a few days – now a blob had been in his bowl of chicken. Hoping in a week or two to start mixing and increasing the turkey again but he still sniffs as though he does not trust it. I need to call RadCat but did not to keep the container info. Not that it matters – I would trust that our cats knew it was spoiled! They have an amazing sense of smell! Liz, I agree, RadCat has a purposeful mission in feeding our cats they foods they should be eating. The problems lie in the vendors and how these animals are raised – so crowded that there is bound to be disease, including unwanted viruses (free range not so much room).

    1. Oh my CP, I agree – I have no doubt you had a bad batch there, even if the # wasn’t listed yet. Thank goodness for those smart sniffers!

  16. Oh My! Oh I am so glad to hear your beautiful kitties are on the mend, you know how traumatizing it is to the cats when they vomit. Just glad they got it out of them. I do watch when I feed my kitty. She’s a good eater(Russian Blue) but when ever she acts fussy or stand offish concerning eating I give her another dish of different food, like you say they sense it better than us. Thank you for your lovely posts and for all you share and your picture of your kitty is so beautiful ~ love the fur pattern/eye color! WOW ….what a beautiful cat!

    1. Thank you for your very kind comment, Kathy! That cat in the photo is beautiful indeed, but he’s actually not my cat! We have have a Russian Blue too and a black kitty – both so handsome as well!