Iams Appologizes, Issues Full Payment For Cat Food Recall-Related Expenses

Just a week ago, we published a cat parent’s story about struggling with reimbursements related the pet food recall. Her cat, who ate recalled cat food from Iams, had to be euthanized at the veterinarian’s office. It’s a story we’ve heard from many other readers.

But, out of the blue, Iams had decided to pay for her cat food recall-related expenses. She wrote us yesterday to say “I suspect it was your site that helped Iams finally recognize my situation. In short, they called, apologized and are giving us full payment. Thank you SO MUCH.”

Her email and a touching story about her cat, Kisses, that ate recalled cat food:

As my story about Kisses and our family’s loss was published on Itchmo last week, I continued working to get my new claim rep’s attention (at Risk Enterprise Management, the firm hired to manage claims for Iams).

Almost simultaneously, Iams personnel were reviewing my situation — whether due to my April e-mail to Iams surfacing in front of the right person, the Itchmo article, or some other lucky break, I am not sure. But I am thankful. Iams contacted REM to cut and mail a check to me, then Iams contacted me to apologize. REM called as well.

The Iams representative said a case with evidence like mine should have been paid earlier and that my situation is not typical. I hope she is right. Nothing will ever bring Kisses back, but the power of a sincere apology and a promise kept, even belatedly, should not be underestimated. I appreciate the sympathy expressed by the Iams representative and would label it heartfelt and genuine.

I could waste words here, rehashing my negative experiences. But I would rather talk about Kisses and what she meant to me. Now that I can stop chasing acknowledgment and validation through reimbursement, I am ready to focus on Kisses and her life, not just her illness and death.

Read a touching story of a dog-lover gone cat-crazy after the jump.


Full text of reader’s letter about the joys of living with her cat:

Ten years ago this week, I walked into a shelter with my sister, intending to get a dog. Dog, dog, dog. I was finally in an apartment that accepted pets, and I wanted a dog. I even told the shelter volunteers at the entrance, I’m getting a dog. My sister knew better. Get a cat, she said. You need a cat.

Cats were nice, and my grandmother let us claim a cat or two at her house over the years. But we grew up with dogs. I. Loved. Dogs.

I remember lots of cages, so many dogs, but not “THE dog.” My sister stood at the door to the cat room. “Just go in.” I rolled my eyes and gave in to shut her up as sisters do.

Oh, look at this one, I heard her say. She’s declawed and a Himalayan and… I didn’t even know what a Himalayan was, though she looked like a Persian, staring at me with perfectly round blue eyes from the back of her tiny cage. I thought, I could just hold her for a minute.

Click. There she was, my cat. I tried to ignore teasing from the volunteers about this “dog” as I signed the paperwork. At four years old, this was her third visit to the shelter. Her most recent entry there said simply, “Owner ill.” I renamed her “Kisses” and knew I would keep her the rest of her life. But that was only the beginning.

Even with new toys, treats and petting, it took months for us to fully adjust to each other. I like to imagine she was thinking, “How did I get here? And who is this?” even as I was wondering how on earth I wound up with a cat. Her favorite toy was a stuffed frog she used to carry around with her, dragging it under my bed during storms. I remember drying Frog out once after finding him face down in her water dish, and I’ve never fully solved the mystery of his identity. Was he her child, since she carried him in her mouth from one place to another? Or toy, batted around the floor fiercely and randomly? Or prey, sometimes dropped on the floor near my bed overnight like a captured mouse? I read the book, “Good Owners, Great Cats,” to try to understand Kisses a little better. And sometime during that first year, she jumped into my lap. There I was, a cat person.

For almost a decade, I could wake up and see two little pointed ears at the foot of my bed. I could celebrate the music of her purring, the gentle kneading motion of those powder-puff front paws.

Pets are a consistent presence through so many of our experiences, going through them right along with us. My sister says part of our mourning after a pet’s death is tied to this kind of shared experience, in addition to the loss of special companionship.

Kisses had this contagious calm about her that helped me weather anything from a boss I didn’t like to the boys I didn’t love. When a job promotion sent me 600 miles away from home, Kisses and Frog were in the car with me, moving into my first house. Watching my husband with Kisses, long before he was my husband, taught me about his kind heart. If I went into the basement to get something, I could hear him talking to her upstairs, through the floor. Whenever he left my house, he said good-bye to her. Smart man. He, too, is now a cat person.

I never knew what it was like to have an elderly cat. Until March, she was still running down our stairs in the morning, still dancing with me as I exercised and still making up games with me. A longtime favorite game was more of a bedtime ritual. I’d ask if she was ready for bed, and she’d start running. If I caught her, I’d carry her up. If she won, she would come upstairs later. Blankets on sofas or on laps needed to be smoothed, and she would squeak until they were properly pressed. If she wanted to sit with my husband in the recliner, I was also a participant. She would stand crouched on the floor at his raised feet, staring at me until I got up and stepped toward her, then she’d jump up on her own.

She loved being cuddled, and frankly, worshiped. She seemed to like hearing she was a little spoiled, she was unique in all the world and I would love her forever, whether or not she knew what that meant.

That, for me, is another layer of the magic that pets bring to our lives. No matter how many words they learn from “sit” to “stay,” words are not what matters to them. Their loyalty runs deeper than that. Humanity — we’re caught up in our conversations, opinions and arguments, our compliments and our insults. Pets seem to access a… deeper level of knowing, more easily than we do. Even as a writer, I think our companion animals understand love more strongly than the best poet could ever express. And more importantly, they live that understanding every day. That is their gift.

Kisses was never demanding. She often sat in my office, sleeping while I worked. I will miss seeing her there as much as I miss her bunny-soft fur and the spirit behind those wide blue eyes. And throughout her illness, no matter how sick she got, we were happy to take care of her. Even as I realized the damage was permanent, I’d hoped we could carry on for awhile. But after her worst seizure, I realized it was time. That’s what everyone says, that you know when it’s time, and it’s true. But words cannot express how difficult it is, even when all doubt has passed and never returns, to choose euthanasia. It ends their suffering, but not yours.

The weeks since May 25 have been, at times, more searing than the two months of her illness. We miss her every day. A few things have helped, including taking our vet’s advice and inviting a new cat into our lives as soon as we felt ready. The timing of adopting a pet after such a loss is intensely personal, and I always thought we would need a long mourning period. But I found myself entering a pattern of weep, look at shelters online, cry, visit shelters and hug kitties, repeat. It was oddly healing, and even before we were ready to adopt, I felt like socializing the cats was helpful to them too, somehow. We were strangers helping each other while my husband held my purse, not wanting to get too attached until the day I was ready to make a decision.

Like Kisses, I think Vernie chose me. And like Kisses, Vernie is a beautiful young cat with multiple shelter visits. Appearance, personality, pedigree, those are all totally different. Vernie looks more like a fox than a domestic long hair cat. She is settling in, and has been a comfort to her new mom who still cries more than I feel I should.

Grief is as individual as the animals we lose, but a few things have helped me. We moved items related to Kisses, such as her blankets and food dishes, one by one as we felt like it, rather than clearing everything out quickly. Frog remains where we can see him, high on a cabinet, sitting in the milk glass compote that was once her water dish. Vernie received mostly new things, especially a new carrier with no sad memories attached.

I also find it’s helpful to my heart, to talk to Vernie about “big sister.” When she sits in a perfect sun-filled spot to watch the birds Kisses always loved, I say, “Vernie, big sister used to love to sit right there. What a PERFECT spot.”

And I return to my gratefulness that my claims battle is apparently coming to an end. Anger can be a positive energizer, and it has fueled so many great campaigns for change. But if nurtured too long, anger becomes as toxic as the food Kisses ate in March.

If it sounds as if I’ve had some miraculous, healing experience because a check has been cut (Whoo-hoo, I’m getting a check. Group hug!), then I have not shared my message effectively. I wish life were that simple. I wish buying a pet food were that simple. Healing takes time.

It would be easy to imagine I could protect Vernie by demonizing a company, a country or a government agency — especially since so many of the actors in this recent drama seem ready to point fingers at each other. But I believe small companies do not have a monopoly on conscience, and unfortunately greed can sprout in a company of any size. Show me 100 people, and the group probably contains a mixture of people who are trying to do the right thing, people who want more at any cost, people who care and people who don’t. That is the beautiful chaos we live in. And in a few years, the world will give us a new set of heroes, villains and victims.

I still believe information is stronger and faster than regulation. Learn, share and buyer be-aware, I say. A friend of mine had a quote in her e-mail signature years ago: “In God We Trust. All others must have data.”

Forgive. NEVER forget.

21 Responses to “Iams Appologizes, Issues Full Payment For Cat Food Recall-Related Expenses”

  1. Pit Bull Lover says:

    Thank you for sharing Kisses’ and your story, a “love letter” so touchingly and beautifully written, I know I will never forget it. I am grateful, to no one in particular, that Iams finally chose to demonstrate some compassion and a glimmer of humanity toward you and your relatively small financial claim, a monetary dust mote compared to your irreplaceable loss.

    I hope Vernie, and memories of love and Kisses, continue to comfort you.

  2. pat says:

    what a lovely tribute! Vernie has found a wonderful new home.

    i’m glad that iams has finally stepped up to the plate in this case, but i believe the story of your journey is not atypical at all. just yesterday, a Norwich CT newspaper ran a story about how after receiving a report of a pet death, iams sent the grieving owner a coupon for more of the food that killed her companion.

  3. HomeGrown says:

    My heart aches for all the pets and the pet parents. I myself would be devistated to lose my special girl who is my comfort when the world gets to be too much. Amazing what the love of a pet can do for you.

    This isn’t related to the above story, but might be fun for some of us to get our views out there. Its called Gut Check America.

    MSNBC

    ” Time for round two of Gut Check America.

    In case you’re new to our series, here’s how it works. Using the submission form below, tell us what you consider the most important issue facing our nation and — most important — how it affects you, your family or your friends. We’re looking for your specific personal stories, not just opinions. ”

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18826755/

    You get 3000 words. I think it would be good to tell them what we think of Corporate-Run America.

  4. Carol says:

    I am delighted for Kisses’ “parent” as one of the complaints most of us have with sick kids is THEY DO MATTER. To have the pet food companies drag their feet, the FDA review “gone silent” and the press to not cover this in depth like the Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole Smith stories –just helps to make us affected feel our furkids are so unimportant. “Chasing acknowledgment and validation” sums it up perfectly. I do think Itchmo had alot to do with this—Itchmo, you should be proud of your website and choosing the articles you do!!!

  5. Ann H says:

    That story truly honors Kisses and the loving heart of her owner.

    I am so glad IAMS *finally* did the right thing.

    It’s the “finally” that keeps IAMS/Eukanuba on the don’t buy list. It’s the things like the “rumors” emails they sent .. It’s the lack of comprehension that the coupons are like tragic reminders…

    They earned that standing by their lack of comprehension of what the recall and lack of comprehensive testing of finished goods pet foods has done to our pets AND their reputation.

    Like trust? Like belief in “safe”? GONE

    The day any of the recalled brands or the ones suspected of being a problem shows up with a comprehensive analysis from a testing lab, with the protocols and limits tested for .. well that will be the day they get considered for the buy list again.. wet or dry.

  6. Sharon says:

    too little too late, sorry Iams, I will never touch a product with your name on it again.

  7. HighNote says:

    Tears came to my eyes while reading your heart felt story about kisses. It of course brings back so memories of the loving campanions that we all have lost in the past. No there is no replacing them but there are so many babies out there that need homes and I am so happy that you decided to get Vernie. No Vernie can not replace Kisses but Vernie has a lot of love to give too and that love will help with the pain.
    I am glad that Iam’s finally paid you and hope they wake up and pay many others for their losses. This will not bring back our loving pets and I doubt if it will make any of us trust a pet food company ever again. But it is a start and maybe if they really begin to improve their pet food quality, Trust can begin again.

  8. Katie says:

    Thank you for sharing your story about kisses, the love of an animal is very special. I’m glad you have found Vernie to share your life with - kisses would be very happy.

    Re: Iams
    Isn’t it interesting what possible bad press will do to a company. Just like that - they come out of the closet of denial and offer payment and apology. It’s still about the loss of profit. They think this will make us all feel better about them. I used their products, they made money off of my pets for many years. Iam’s I hope you read this. I will never, ever, ever feed my dog one of your products again. Any apologies now,to any pet parent are too late. You should have addressed the pet parents concerns a long time ago. Trust? I’m not sure what would ever make me trust a PFI company again. The past few months have been extremely enlighting.

    Katie

  9. Ruth says:

    I loved the part of your bedtime ritual and smoothing out the blankets. I too had a bedtime ritual with my pet dog. She had to fluff up the blankets when she went to bed. Your story is a very touching and loving tribute to your pet Kisses. Vernie is very lucky to share her life with you.

    I am glad for you that are getting some closure with IAM’s. But there are still so many that IAM’s has chosen to ignore and just dismiss off with just a coupon. And there are many whose pets ate their unrecalled food and died just the same and IAM’s claims it isn’t their fault.

    So there is no forgiveness or forgetting…. IAM’s. Nor do I believe IAM’s has any compassion and maybe trying for some positve PR.

  10. Lorie says:

    Your story but tears to my eyes but also a smile to my heart, I love the part about going for a dog dog dog and coming home with a cat, and the way you share the memories of Kisses with your new kitty, who is going to have a great life in your wonderful home. I truly believe rescue kitties are a specail breed of cat all on their own. My Topaz is a rescue and she has such a unique personality, totally different from my breeder bought Persian who I love dearly also.

  11. Boycott China says:

    The Chinese are truly nuts. Of course I don’t mind my toothpaste having 15% anti freeze in it. From CNN:

    On Wednesday, three Japanese importers recalled millions of Chinese-made travel toothpaste sets, many sold to inns and hotels, after they were found to contain as much as 6.2 percent of diethylene glycol.

    Wang, the Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman, said Chinese experts have already “explained the situation.”

    He gave no details, although the country’s quality watchdog has in past cited tests from 2000 that it said showed toothpaste containing less than 15.6 percent diethylene glycol was harmless to humans.

  12. HighNote says:

    Just heard on the news tonight that we are not suppose to trust any of the fish coming in from China. Guess there spraying them with chemicals of some kind that can harm us. I think it was only the farm raised fish and shrimp. They said our fish and shrimp products would go up in price now. great… what else is new..

  13. Trudy Jackson says:

    Wow. what a heartfelt letter. It does make you cry.
    The cats i lost were rescued too. One I found in the ditch in a cage about the size of a chicken cage. She was in there with some raw gross smelling meat. But in the ditch? what was going to happen to Her? I tried to get Her out of the cage, and she as wild as the devil. such a tiny kitten who didn’t deserve this. So, I threw the whole darn cage in the car and let Her out when i got home. she was a gray manx. And after that day, she loved everyone she ever met. We called Her Grey thing, in a nice way of course. Thanks PFI for taking Her away from us.

  14. pam says:

    wonderful story about kisses…great her owner was reimbursed for vet bills. however, people, let’s remember that iams doesn’t really give a crap about us or our animals. they read itchmo as do many influential people. iams is only covering their butts.

  15. Trudy Jackson says:

    Right. And We have to stay strong and not buy from them ever.
    A lot of people have gone from the list. where did they go? and where is H. Hamilton, who was so steamed up?
    And lets keep on telling people not to buy!!

  16. chris says:

    Sharon says:

    June 28th, 2007 at 11:44 am
    too little too late, sorry Iams, I will never touch a product with your name on it again.

    Either will I.

  17. Michele says:

    I used Iams food and biscuits a long time ago for my two terriers but stopped when I found out about their animal testing. Another thing about this company a lot of people don’t know is that PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has been after them for a long time to stop their testing on harmless animals. The president of Iams has gone on record saying that the “public” doesn’t have any right to tell him what to do with regards to his company. So doesn’t surprise me one bit their reaction to the “public” in the wake of so many pet deaths. They have no respect for people or the animals they claim to care about.
    (Note: Yes, PETA has had some bad press lately and I don’t agree with their belief that certain animals should not live (every dog and cat should have the opportunity to find a loving home), but some of their work is still important. They’ve exposed a lot of abuses that people would not otherwise know about).

  18. Man Reimbursed For Pet Food Recall Vet Bills After Contacting Newspaper | Itchmo says:

    […] pets have gone through has been extremely difficult for pet owners. We are seeing a pattern that pet food companies will be more cooperative when there is media pressure or attention brought to the […]

  19. Toniann says:

    My cat Mary got very sick after eating Natural Balance Venison and pea, he had lower feline urinary tract with urinary blockage, and he was in the Veterinary Hospital over a week.

    I contacted Natural Balance, I told them what happen.
    I was e-mailed claim forms and with in about 2 months they sent me a check for all my Vet bills.

    Thank you
    Toniann & Mary

  20. Remembering The Recall: A Reading List says:

    […] in March 2007 did more than change everything I believed about the “right” way to feed pets. We lost our cat, Kisses. Sometimes grief competes with happy memories when I think about her, a sad trend which seems to […]

  21. Earlie says:

    I am so sorry. I am now, where you were. Different cause, Abby refused to eat her food, to the point I allowed her to share mine, and then found out why she didn’t eat it. I don’t know why she was so wise, or how.
    Abby discovered my cancer in time to save my life, so maybe she just had a super nose. She was a Blue Abbysinian and only love me. She had learned to distrust the rest of it as a kitten. I don’t know why I was so lucky, but maybe God had a hand in it. She was my Guardian Angel.
    It hurts. The only thing that might hurt worse would be losing a child, I don’t know. It must be close, because you wouldn’t survive much more.
    Abby got Cancer, in her throat, and it wasn’t one that could be fixed. She was much braver about it than I, and I, as yet, do not know how I got through that day. That was seven months ago, and finally I allowed myself to be taken to the ‘pound’ to look at the kitties.
    There were two, brother and sister, Samson and Circe, that were bonded, scared little people, clinging to each other. You can’t just have one in that situation.
    Abby looks serenely down from her picture on my bedroom wall as the kittens play. I think she is okay with them.
    Like you, I have got them all new things and Abby’s ‘pink panther’ is put up safely. I just wonder what food you feed them now? I was thinking Science Diet, but IAMs was available where I shopped, and the Vet was open. I don’t want to feed them something questionable. Earlie


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