On 29 February 2016, Punkin’ Pawz Palace Cat Sanctuary published a since-deleted status update warning to Facebook, claiming:
Mama Jo here,
We’ve got a serious issue going on here and we want to get the word out. 12 of our babies have been basically poisoned by Temptations cat treats. They are vomiting, and 2 of them have bloody stools. They vet said they are all in various stages of renal failure, but said thankfully because we’re so diligent in watching them, that we caught it early and they should recover, although 2 of them may develop chronic renal failure as a result. We arent out of the woods yet, but things seems to be looking up for all of them.
I’m going to post a picture of the package these treats were in.
Our vet said we arent the first to have issues with this treats, and because the FDA refuses to do anything, we wont be the last. We consider ourselves very lucky. Several cats have died as a result of the renal failure caused by these treats.
Please keep a very close eye on your furbabies if you feed them Temptations cat treats.
Please keep our babies in your thoughts and prayers. We still have a hard road a head of us in their recovery.
The warning garnered tens of thousands of shares in a few days, causing alarm among cat owners. Several worried and angry users posted to the Facebook wall of Temptations and in response to one such comment, the brand stated they became aware of the claim on 2 March 2016:
Thank you for sharing this link Sarah. This post was shared with us this morning by other consumers like you who are concerned. We’ve reached out to the sanctuary hoping to get a phone number so our pet health team can reach out directly. Rest assured our treats undergo hundreds of quality checks in our own facility before being shipped out for your cat to eat. We take all concerns seriously and encourage consumers to reach out to us at 800-525-5273 with any concerns or questions.
The brand also addressed the claims on Twitter:
— TemptationsTreats (@TemptationsCats) March 2, 2016
We checked the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Animal & Veterinary Recalls & Withdrawals database for any information about Temptations cat treats, but were unable to locate any matching entries; a similar veterinarians’ database of pet-related recalls listed no entries related to the product. Anecdotal reports of renal failure attributed to Temptations appeared on consumer complaint sites and were reproduced on cat owners’ message boards, but those reports were unsubstantiated.
When pets suddenly fall ill, their owners can be quick to blame the last food consumed or product to which they were exposed, but it’s often difficult to figure out whether other factors were definitively ruled out, or how such a conclusion was reached. It’s also not uncommon for claims to be repeated across multiple platforms, creating the impression of myriad reports based upon a single source rumor. When that happens, suspicious pet owners who turned to Google will infer that their concerns reflected a widespread pattern, rather than reiterations of widely repeated rumors.
On 2 March 2016, the page deleted the Temptations cat treats warning and stated:
UPDATE: Due to the overwhelming response to my post about what happened to MY cats, and just simply trying to share information from MY vet, I’ve decided to take down the original post. I cannot keep up with the thread and my babies care comes first.
I will update here when the analysis comes back for those who are interested.
The original posts intention was to share information about what I had learned from my vet about my cats and what had happened to them. I was hoping that people would see that sharing information is supposed to be just that:informative. All I asked was to watch your babies closely and for well wishes for my babies. I NEVER said to stop feeding them Temptations treats. I left that decision to other pet parents to decide for themselves.
Thank you to those who have voiced concern for my cats. They are all showing improvement.
We were unable to turn up any substantiated complaints of renal failure in cats attributed to (or deemed likely caused by) Temptations treats. On 3 March 2016, Temptations responded to our query, noting that the pet snacks were manufactured in Canada (not China, as many Facebook users speculated) and thus subject to stringent oversight:
Thank you for the message.
We believe that pets are family, and the safety of all pets is our first priority. We are confident that our Temptations Treats are 100% safe to feed. Temptations Treats are made in our own facility in Canada where they undergo hundreds of safety and quality checks each day. We have reached out directly to Punkin’ Pawz Palace Cat Sanctuary. Our high safety and quality standards give us full confidence that Temptations Treats are safe and nutritious to feed. We encourage consumers with questions to contact us at 1-800-525-5273.