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Posted (edited)

Can anyone help me with some advice. My cat went onto a commercial, raw food diet. Was doing very well on it for about 3 weeks. Then suddenly was in violent pain. It turns out, there was a sharp bit of bone in the food which lodged in his gum. He was unable to eat for 2 days and required emergency surgery at the vets which left us with a large bill.


We have the piece of bone the vet dug out and we have the tub with batch number.  The company have stated that their own regulations only allow for bone pieces to be up to 6mm and this was a cm. I believe this company failed in its duty of care and my cat nearly died. Do you think the company has any moral obligation to cover vets bills/damages/compensation?  I feel it's equivalent to finding some glass in your ready meal and ending up needing to go to A&E for emergency mouth surgery.  There have been no similar bits of bone in further tubs as I have sieved through them, but I am also shocked that 6mm bits of bone is allowed too as even that seems too big. Thanks.

Edited by Zooz
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It's not a question of moral obligation. It's a legal obligation.

I think the answer is very definitely that if they have caused injury to your pet as a result of a piece of bone contained in the food then they would be liable for that damage.

If the piece that you found was 1 cm – that means 10 mm which is substantially larger than their own stated limits – according to you.

I think you will need a vets report.

Well done on keeping the piece of bone – but be careful. If the manufacturers or the resellers ask for the bone, you must not give it to them. Give them photographs – good photographs – but you should not part with the piece of bone.

The people responsible here are the resellers. Even though it's not their fault, they have a strict contractual duty to supply you with goods which are fit for their purpose – and clearly that was not the case here.

When did you buy the food? What was the cost of the vet bill? Is the cat now okay or is there still treatment to come?


Please will you tell us the brand et cetera of the cat food. Maybe a picture of the tub

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Posted (edited)

Thanks for your reply. 


We went through a series of questions with the company who wanted to know if we had defrosted the product correctly,  we had, that we had not cooked the product, we had not and then the advisor said they allow for bone bits up to 6mm. It turns out the bone in our tub was almost a cm. Around 9.5mm


They have seen a picture of the bone and they then asked for it so their lab can analyse it. However when discussing sending it by recorded delivery and us wanting it returning by recorded delivery so that we could attain a second opinion if we disagreed with their lab, they instead decided that their lab no longer wanted to see it.  It concerns us that they have not taken this incident seriously and made sure this doesn't happen again. 


An advisor then moved on to try to claim that because the bone was more than 6mm, and that their bones go through a grinder twice, that the bone could not have been from their product.


Fortunately, not only did we witness the incident occur while our cat was eating the product, as he suddenly stopped eating and began pawing at his mouth in pain and distress, he is also an indoor cat and has no access to other food or bones. We can be certain therefore the bone came from the product. 


Our cat is allergic to ketamine and has to have a specialist vet.  The fees were approaching £500. Plus travel £40 and a days lost income. Not to mention a great deal of distress. 


Cat is doing ok now and has recovered. The offending food was bought about 3 weeks ago and the company is Natural Instinct.  The tub just shows the batch number.  


We have been in discussion with the company itself, although the reseller has been hugely supportive and empathetic, they have not mentioned their potential liability. 


The MD of NI wants to talk over the phone, even though I requested a resolution by email. 


An advisor had previously offered a £50 NI voucher even though I had already stated I was moving my cat off NI and onto nutriment as I couldn't keep on sieving through their product as it was time consuming. 




Edited by Zooz
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First of all the defensive attitude of the manufacturer is not surprising.

Secondly, as I said your action is actually against the retailer. Have you involved the retailer at all? Even if for the moment you proceed against the manufacturer, it would be a good idea to let the retailer know and in fact make them feel that they are under threat of a legal action because that will help to put greater pressure on the manufacturer.

You have already seen that they are acting defensively. You should not agree to let them have the bone even if they undertake to let you have it back by recorded delivery because you can't be certain that you will get it back and it's not accidentally lost.

You could discuss with them letting them have a portion of it so that they can examine it and check that it is actually from the kind of animal from which the rest of the food was made. I expect that this is probably why they want to analyse it and I can't see that there will be any objection to this.

I certainly don't think that you should allow them to have all of it – and as I have said, make sure you have got excellent photographs of it from every direction – if you haven't done this already.

In terms of recovering your losses. I think that they are all recoverable. If you recover your losses from the retailer under a breach of contract then you will only be able to recover your actual losses which include the vets costs, travel costs and also I think the loss of pay which you have suffered by taking a day off.

If you want to try and recover from the manufacturer, then I think that you may well be able to persuade them to pay you something else for distress – although distress wouldn't normally be a recoverable head of damage.
On the other hand, they may well want to manage reputational damage.

There is a real possibility that they may agree to settle with you – but on conditions of confidentiality and that means that they would require you not to start disclosing information on the various forums.

Frankly I think that there is a general interest for all animal keepers/lovers to know about this kind of thing and at the outset you talked about moral responsibilities – and I think that there is a moral responsibility not to give the manufacturer the benefit of any confidentiality agreement.
Firstly, having it known by other pet owners would put pressure on the manufacturer to up their game and to make sure this kind of thing doesn't happen again. Also, by letting it be known by other pet owners would also help them to understand that something can be done and they don't simply have to accept the situation without getting some compensation.

Let us know how you want to deal with this. We will help you all the way.

I'm pleased that the retailer is supportive – but I wouldn't have expected anything less and pardon my cynicism, but I can imagine that in the back of their mind they have their own liability in the matter in consideration and they probably realise that the more they can help you with against the manufacturer, the less likelihood there is that the focus will fall on them when it comes to the question of compensation.

If you had to sue the manufacturer then you could sue them in negligence. If you had to sue the retailer then you would sue them in contract.

What is the value of a days loss of income? Can you tell us a bit about the distress you have suffered?

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  • BankFodder changed the title to Natural Instinct - Cat Food
Posted (edited)

Thanks for clarifying the legal framework.  I've never experienced a situation like this before so it really helps and thankyou for your offer of support.  Not a huge amount in wages lost, in a bit of shock for a couple of days followed by a significant amount of stress  and anxiety, disturbed sleep albeit temporary over a week or so and then back to normal now.  


It will be straight forward getting a vet report if needed. Do you think it advisable to have a chat with the MD over the phone about this? The reseller was aware of the situation as it unfolded and has said he will email company if needed. 

Edited by Zooz
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I would set about information gathering before contacting anyone.


This means a proper report from the vet. See also if the vet s prepared to make a separate report about the bone which was discovered although the vet may consider that they are not qualified to do this.

 A proper list of your losses - detailed.

And also I think that you should itemise the way in which you feel that you suffered distressed. You can refer to the cat, how long you have had the cat, what the cat means to you. Do you have a family? What the cat means to the family? Did you anytime feel that you might lose the cat?

Post it here so we can have a look.


Damages for distress wouldn't be a huge amount and it's important not to look as if you are making a money grab but I think that it is reasonable to expect that some measure of compensation should be asked for and given.








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Ok, thank you. If I do enter a confidentiality agreement (and I take your point about my moral obligation here), would you be ok about removing my thread?  I had wanted to just gather information first.  I see the title has been changed already. 

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I've changed the title back because that was done by us. However I'm afraid that we don't remove or alter content unless it may be possible to identify an individual – in which case we will attempt to make the necessary edits.


You shouldn't worry about this at this stage anyway, if the manufacturer is really invested in the quality of their product then you can tell people that on this forum and we will be very pleased to congratulate them for it.

This is how real reputations are made.

The real test of the company is not how things go when everyone is happy – that what happens when things go wrong.

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In fact looking at trust pilot, it seems that this company is not unfamiliar with contamination issues in their product.



Do you agree with Natural Instinct's TrustScore? Voice your opinion today and hear what 26 customers have already said.


46% of reviews have given the company one star or two stars and most of the issues seem to be with contamination followed up by poor customer service.





Natural Instinct has recalled five of its product lines after they were discovered to be



Two owners and around 50 cats infected by Natural Instinct's wild venison product, vets believe


And there is a risk that contaminated raw food may even put you – the owner – in danger


The five TB cases were distributed across areas of England and Scotland at low risk of endemic bovine tuberculosis, said the scientific report, Transboundary and Emerging Diseases.


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