Heinz Body Anemia Results from Onion Powder in Many Baby Foods.

Question:

My kitty’s special treat is one half jar of meat baby food every morning. I have heard that it’s not good for her as it contains onion salt or onion powder. I have read the labels, and haven’t seen any reference to onion salt. Do you know of any problems that could occur from her having her treat? She is perfectly healthy, and her coat just gleams in the sunlight. We love her so much I don’t want to feed her anything that will harm her.

 

Dr. Nichol:

Did you know that 75% of American pet owners regard their pets as children? We are not alone. Enjoy sharing your love with your beautiful cat but don’t forget that she is actually member of a different species. Onions, aspirin, and Tylenol are completely safe for most humans, but are potentially deadly for cats.

 

You are right to be concerned about baby food. Many varieties of these pediatric delicacies have onion powder added as a flavor enhancer. If small amounts are used and not listed on the label you could still have a sick kitty. Onions can function as oxidants that damage the red blood cells of cats. The resulting breakdown of the red cells (called Heinz body anemia) can cause weakness, fever, and loss of appetite. You may be playing with fire.

 

I recommend quitting the baby food habit. Pet supply stores have lots of yummy (and healthy) cat treats that are perfectly safe-unless you feed too many of them. In that case we’ll need to discuss getting you a forklift to manage the hefty overfed feline.