Is Sheba Cat Food Making Cat Sick? 5 Reasons Why

31 Min Read

You crack open a can of Sheba, and Whiskers comes running—her favorite! But lately, something’s not quite right. After gobbling up her meal, Whiskers has been vomiting and having diarrhea more often than you’d like. Is sheba cat food making cat sick? Could the very food that’s supposed to keep your furry friend happy and healthy actually be making her sick?

There’s been a lot of buzz among pet parents about Sheba cat food and its potential to cause tummy troubles for our four-legged friends. From online forums to the vet’s office, cat owners are swapping stories and seeking answers. What’s really going on with this popular wet food brand, and should you be worried about serving it to your own cat?

Hang tight as we dive into the juicy details of the Sheba cat food controversy. We’ll break down the suspected culprit behind all the puking and potty problems, examine the evidence, and help you decide if it’s time to make a menu change for your mighty hunter. Your cat’s health is of no concern, so let’s get to the bottom of this!

What is Sheba Cat Food?

Sheba is a popular brand of wet cat food that has been around since the late 1990s. Manufactured by Mars Petcare, it’s one of the most recognizable names on pet store shelves across the United States, Germany, New Zealand, and beyond.

Sheba’s claim to fame is their use of premium proteins like real chicken, tuna, and seafood as the first ingredients. According to the company’s website, each can or pouch contains a hearty 18 ounces of meat. They pride themselves on making “premium” foods with no artificial flavors or preservatives.

The wet recipes come in a variety of cuts and flavors, from tender chunk fillets to savory gravy selections and delicate pâtés. There’s something to satisfy even the pickiest of palates, whether your cat craves chicken, beef, seafood, or a delicious medley. And don’t forget about the tempting toppings like coconut cream and sweet prawn bisque that are sure to stir up your cat’s appetite.

Sheba also offers a line of dry kibble and treats, but it’s their signature wet foods that seem to be at the center of the controversy. While the ingredient lists may sound decadent, some pet parents aren’t convinced the names are as nutritious as advertised.

Why Is Sheba Cat Food Making Cat Sick?

At the root of the Sheba cat food sickness scandal is a single, controversial ingredient: propylene glycol. This synthetic liquid has been used as a food additive in a variety of products, including some Sheba wet cat food recipes. But what exactly is propylene glycol, and why is it potentially making kitties keel over after meals?

Propylene glycol is a type of alcohol compound that is essentially a synthetic form of glycerine. It has a few different uses: acting as an antifreeze by lowering the freezing point of water, helping to trap moisture, and inhibiting bacterial growth. For food manufacturers like Sheba, adding propylene glycol to wet cat food serves two key purposes:

It prevents the food from freezing solid in cold temperatures, allowing it to remain scoopable straight from the fridge or cabinet.

It works as a preservative, helping to extend the shelf life of the products.

While propylene glycol meets FDA safety standards for human and pet consumption in limited quantities, concerns have been raised about the potential health impacts on cats, who tend to ingest it in concentrated doses through wet foods.

According to reports from vets and cat owners, overconsumption of propylene glycol may lead to a host of unpleasant complications in felines, including:

  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Potential liver disease from built-up toxicity
  • Heinz body anemia caused by damage to red blood cells
  • Potential kidney issues from trying to excrete the substance
  • In extreme cases, seizures and brain damage have been reported

The bigger issue is that, while small amounts may not be problematic, it’s difficult to know how much propylene glycol is too much for an individual cat based on their size, age, overall health, and other factors. Some felines seem to have no issues processing it, while others experience severe reactions to the food additive.

So if your cat has been lapping up Sheba wet foods regularly, a sensitivity or intolerance to the propylene glycol could be causing the vomiting, diarrhea, and other concerning symptoms you’ve noticed. It’s worth taking a close look at the ingredients and considering an alternative that skips this controversial addition.

Of course, propylene glycol isn’t the only potential culprit for stomach upset; we’ll explore some other potential reasons your kitty’s not keeping their Sheba dishes down a bit later. But this synthetic preservative has emerged as a leading suspect in the Sheba sickness saga.

5 Reasons Why Sheba Cat Food Making Cat Sick

While propylene glycol seems to be public enemy #1 when it comes to Sheba’s potential to make cats unwell, it’s not the only factor that could be contributing to your furry friend’s food woes. Let’s take a closer look at five key reasons why Sheba may be causing your cat’s stomach to rebel:

Propylene Glycol Intestinal Obstruction

As we covered, propylene glycol is used as a preservative in some Sheba wet food recipes. However, this synthetic compound can potentially cause intestinal obstructions or inflammatory bowel issues in cats. It may irritate the lining of the digestive tract, leading to vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and other unpleasant GI disruptions.

Blood Disorder Risks

Propylene glycol is molecularly similar in structure to certain toxins that can trigger a condition called Heinz body anemia in cats. This involves damage to red blood cells, which can deprive organs of oxygen. Symptoms include weakness, rapid breathing, pale gums, and in severe cases, organ failure.

Kidney Complications

A cat’s kidneys have to work hard to filter and excrete propylene glycol from their system. Over time, this chemical could potentially lead to kidney enlargement, kidney stones, or even renal failure if consumed in high enough quantities through Sheba food.

Liver Toxicity Concerns

There is some evidence that propylene glycol can be toxic to a cat’s liver cells, especially with prolonged, excessive exposure through their diet. This could contribute to symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite, jaundice, and potentially even liver disease.

Potential Carcinogen Risks

While more research is still needed, some studies have suggested a potential link between propylene glycol and certain types of cancer, including liver tumors, when consumed by animals in large doses over an extended period of time.

But it’s not just the propylene glycol factor; there are a few other potential reasons Sheba could be causing your cat gastric grief:

  • Food Allergies or Intolerances: Certain proteins, like chicken or seafood, could potentially trigger food allergies in sensitive cats.
  • Excess Fat Content: Sheba prides itself on its high meat content, but the rich, fatty foods may be too much for some feline tummies.
  • Abrupt Diet Changes: Switching between different Sheba flavors or introducing them rapidly without a transition could shock your cat’s system.
  • Spoiled or Contaminated Food: Improperly stored or handled Sheba could allow bacteria growth that makes your cat sick.

Is Sheba Cat Food Bad for Cats?

With all the rumblings about Sheba cat food potentially making cats sick, you may be wondering if it’s simply time to ditch this popular brand altogether. After all, no pet parent wants to intentionally feed their furry friend something that could make them violently ill.

The harsh reality is that Sheba’s use of propylene glycol as a preservative and anti-freeze agent in some of their wet food recipes does raise legitimate health concerns for cats. This synthetic compound has been linked to vomiting, diarrhea, potential organ issues like liver disease and kidney failure, blood disorders like Heinz body anemia, and even cancer in some severe cases of overconsumption.

Reputable veterinarians tend to agree: propylene glycol probably isn’t something you want your cat to ingest on a regular basis through their food, especially in high concentrations. Even if small amounts may be technically safe, it’s nearly impossible to know your cat’s individual tolerance level. A little propylene glycol may not affect one kitty while sending another into vomiting fits.

The bigger issue is that Sheba’s recipes containing this controversial additive may not be properly labeled or disclosed to consumers. You’d have to meticulously scan every can’s fine print under the ingredients list to determine if propylene glycol has been added as a preservative. This lack of transparency has understandably upset many cat owners.

However, not every single Sheba product contains propylene glycol; the dry kibble, treats, and some of the liquid recipes appear to be free of this synthetic ingredient based on their labelling. But good luck trying to decipher which is which when you’re standing in that pet food aisle!

So is Sheba cat food bad for cats altogether? Not necessarily. There are certainly arguments that their prioritization of real proteins like chicken, seafood, and beef as the first ingredients makes Sheba a higher-quality option compared to brands loaded with by-products and fillers.

But the potential effects of repeatedly ingesting propylene glycol through unidentified Sheba foods are concerning enough that many experts recommend simply avoiding this brand until they commit to higher transparency or reformulating their recipes.

For many cat parents, the possibility of propylene glycol poisoning or other health issues simply isn’t worth the risk when there are so many other cat food choices out there that don’t use this controversial additive at all. When your cat’s wellbeing is at stake, it’s generally better to be safe than sorry!

Does Sheba Cat Food Cause Diarrhea?

One of the most commonly reported issues with Sheba cat food seems to be diarrhea and other digestive upsets in cats after eating it. Chronic diarrhea is definitely a cause for concern, as it can quickly lead to dehydration and other complications if not resolved.

So what exactly is it about Sheba that could be causing your cat’s frequent trips to the litter box? The main suspect is propylene glycol, the controversial preservative we’ve discussed. As an added antimicrobial and moisture-trapping agent, propylene glycol can potentially irritate a cat’s sensitive digestive system.

When ingested in high concentrations through wet Sheba foods, propylene glycol may inflame the intestinal lining and disrupt the normal rhythm of digestion and nutrient absorption. This can trigger bouts of acute diarrhea as the cat’s body tries to expel the irritating substance.

However, propylene glycol isn’t the only potential culprit for diarrhea. The high fat and protein content of many Sheba recipes could also be too much for some cats with sensitive stomachs to handle properly. An intolerance or food allergy to an ingredient like seafood could likewise cause diarrhea flare-ups.

It’s also possible that abruptly switching a cat over to a new Sheba recipe rather than transitioning them slowly is just too sudden a diet change. This dietary shock can absolutely contribute to diarrhea as the cat’s system struggles to adjust.

On the flip side, Sheba maintains that their foods meet all nutritional guidelines and are perfectly safe for cats when fed as directed. They insist diarrhea issues are likely caused by things like quickly switching between different proteins, overfeeding, or an underlying condition, rather than an inherent problem with their recipes.

Ultimately, if your cat experiences chronic diarrhea or other digestive issues after introducing Sheba food, it’s wise to discontinue feeding it and consult your veterinarian. Diarrhea can quickly become dangerous for cats, leading to dehydration and nutrient malabsorption. Getting to the root cause is important for getting your finicky feline’s health back on track.

How Long Does Sheba Cat Food Stay Good For?

According to Sheba, their canned wet cat food recipes have a shelf life of around 2–3 years when unopened and stored properly in a cool, dry place. This lengthy shelf life is thanks in part to the preservatives like propylene glycol that allow the wet food to retain freshness for an extended period.

However, it’s important to note that this 2-3-year timeframe is simply the recommended unopened shelf life printed on the cans. Once opened and exposed to air, an unopened can of Sheba should be tightly covered and refrigerated, where it will remain fresh for only 3-5 days maximum before needing to be discarded.

For their pouched recipes, Sheba states an unopened shelf life of about 2 years. Once opened, any unused portion should be refrigerated and eaten within 3 days for optimal freshness and food safety.

Regardless of format, it’s never advisable to purchase or consume Sheba wet cat food products that are past their printed expiration date on the packaging. While the preservatives may help retard spoilage, no canned food can truly remain “good” forever.

Signs that your Sheba cat food may have spoiled and needs to be thrown out include:

  • Cans or pouches that are bulging, leaking, rusting or severely dented
  • Any mold, visible growths, or odd discolorations in the food
  • Foul, rancid, or otherwise “off” odors coming from the food
  • Noticeable changes in texture, like excessive dryness or liquification

While a high-quality, unopened can may still seem perfectly edible past its best-by date, err on the side of caution. Spoiled wet food can expose your cat to harmful bacteria like salmonella that could make them extremely sick. When in doubt, throw it out!

Proper storage and handling of Sheba food is crucial to maximizing its shelf life and preventing your cat from ingesting anything that’s turned. Sticking to the basic food safety guidelines for perishable products is always wise when it comes to your furry friend’s diet.

Why is Sheba Cat Food being discontinued?

Amid the growing controversy and concerns around Sheba cat food potentially making cats sick, you may have heard rumblings that the brand is being discontinued altogether. Is this just a rumor, or is Sheba really on its way out of pet stores?

The short answer is yes. Mars Petcare, the company that manufactures Sheba, has officially announced plans to discontinue the entire line of Sheba-branded cat food products over the next year or so. However, the reasons cited have nothing to do with the recent health issues or social media backlash.

According to Mars, the decision to phase out Sheba is part of a larger rebranding and restructuring strategy aimed at streamlining their pet food portfolio. With dozens of brands under their umbrella, like Pedigree, Whiskas, Greenies, and Iams, Mars stated they want to focus more effort and marketing resources on their highest-priority offerings.

By discontinuing underperforming or overlapping brands like Sheba, they can reallocate investments towards maintaining and growing their core lineup of pet foods, treats, and snacks. It’s being framed as more of a business move than a safety or quality control decision.

However, the mounting negative publicity and online backlash against Sheba’s use of propylene glycol surely couldn’t have helped the brand’s case for sticking around. The concerns from vets and cat parents about the potential health risks were likely a contributing factor as well.

Mars has stated that Sheba products should remain available on store shelves throughout 2024 as existing inventories are sold through distribution channels. But once that existing supply is depleted, no additional Sheba cat foods, treats, or supplies will be manufactured or replenished.

So in effect, the discontinuation serves as a gradual phasing out of the entire Sheba product line over the next year rather than an immediate halt. Mars is encouraging fans of the brand to begin transitioning their cats over to other options, like their Whiskas wet food offerings.

For those concerned about continuing to feed their cats Sheba while it’s still available, Mars maintains that existing inventories are perfectly safe when fed as directed. They make no mention of reformulating recipes or removing controversial ingredients like propylene glycol before discontinuation.

So whether you choose to stick with Sheba until the end or begin transitioning your cat now is a personal decision. But one thing is for sure: the days of this popular wet cat food hitting store shelves are numbered thanks to Mars’ rebranding plans.

Has Sheba Cat Food Been Recalled?

With all the hubbub around Sheba cat food potentially making cats sick, you may be wondering if any official recalls have been issued for contamination or other safety violations. After all, a widespread recall would theoretically force the company to temporarily remove their products from stores.

The short answer is no; there have been no major recalls of Sheba cat food by Mars Petcare or the FDA in recent years specifically related to incidents of cats becoming ill. All existing Sheba products legally meet federal safety regulations for pet foods and remain available for purchase.

However, that doesn’t mean the brand hasn’t had any brushes with recalls in the past. Back in 2008, certain varieties of Sheba canned cat food were caught up in a massive precautionary recall across numerous brands. This was due to the potential contamination of ingredients from a third-party supplier with melamine, which can cause kidney failure in pets.

More recently, in 2021, Mars did issue a minor, isolated recall of specific lot codes of their Sheba Perfect Portions Pate Entrees due to potential foreign matter contamination. A piece of rigid plastic was discovered in one batch, prompting them to recall those pates from stores as a precaution.

But in both of these previous recall instances, there was no direct linkage to any confirmed cases of cats becoming sick from the Sheba products. They were more preemptive protective measures to err on the side of caution.

As for the current propylene glycol controversy swirling around Sheba, there has been no official recall from Mars despite mounting complaints from vets and pet owners about cats vomiting or experiencing diarrhea and other illnesses after consumption.

Mars continues to stand by the safety of propylene glycol as an approved, legal food additive used for its preservation properties. They insist there is no need to recall any Sheba recipes containing it.

However, the lack of a formal recall hasn’t stopped many upset consumers from effectively “recalling” Sheba themselves by boycotting the brand over these health concerns. Online petitions have even circulated calling for a mass recall until propylene glycol can be removed from formulations.

Unless regulators determine a legitimate risk and intervene, or Mars has a change of heart, it seems unlikely that a full Sheba recall is imminent. But concerned cat parents don’t necessarily need to wait for an official recall to decide this controversial food isn’t worth the gamble for their feline friends.

Is Sheba Cat Food Safe for Cats?

This is the million-dollar question: with all the controversy around Sheba cat food potentially making cats sick, can it truly be considered a safe option to feed our feline friends? The answer isn’t as clear-cut as many pet parents would hope.

From a legal and regulatory standpoint, yes, Sheba cat food meets all the requirements to be marketed and sold as a complete and balanced diet for cats. The ingredients used, including the controversial propylene glycol preservative, fall within the FDA’s defined safe levels for pet consumption.

Mars Petcare stands firmly by the safety of their Sheba recipes when fed according to the instructions on the packaging. They insist any incidents of cats vomiting or having diarrhea after eating it are likely due to other factors like abrupt diet changes, overfeeding, or underlying health conditions rather than an inherent problem with their cat food formulas.

Vets tend to have mixed perspectives. Many agree that, in moderation, propylene glycol itself isn’t necessarily toxic or dangerous for cats, as it is technically deemed safe by regulating bodies. However, they also acknowledge that some cats seem to have particularly strong sensitivities or intolerances that could be triggered by regular ingestion of this synthetic additive.

The bigger issue from a safety standpoint is that there’s no way for a consumer to know exactly how much propylene glycol is present in any given can or pouch of Sheba containing it as a preservative. Too high levels could potentially overwhelm a cat’s ability to properly metabolize and excrete it, leading to complications.

Then there’s the matter of complete transparency in product labeling. Sheba has faced criticism for not clearly delineating which of their specific recipes contain propylene glycol, making it difficult for owners to make fully informed decisions about what they’re feeding their pets.

From an abundance of caution, many vets tend to err on the side of recommending that concerned owners simply avoid Sheba altogether and select a cat food brand that relies on alternative, more natural preservatives until more definitive safety studies are conducted.

What Is Going On With Sheba Cat Food?

There has been a significant amount of controversy and backlash surrounding Sheba cat food in recent times due to health concerns. Here’s a rundown of what’s going on:

The Main Issue: Propylene Glycol

Sheba uses propylene glycol as a preservative and moisture-retaining agent in some of their wet cat food recipes.

Propylene glycol is a synthetic compound that has raised red flags for potentially causing various illnesses in cats who ingest it regularly through their food.

Reported Health Problems

Many cat owners have reported their cats experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, and other concerning symptoms after eating Sheba.

Some vets have linked propylene glycol consumption to more serious issues like potential liver disease, kidney problems, Heinz body anemia, and even brain damage in severe cases.

Consumer Backlash

There has been significant online criticism and boycott threats against Sheba for using propylene glycol without clearly labeling it.

Petitions have circulated calling for the brand to reformulate their recipes or face a mass recall until this additive is removed.

The brand’s reputation has taken a major hit as pet parents voice their sheba sickness stories across social media.

Mars’ Response

Mars Petcare, the company that makes Sheba, has defended propylene glycol as safe and USDA/FDA-approved for use in pet foods.

However, they have announced plans to discontinue the entire Sheba brand over the next year as part of a larger rebranding and restructuring effort.

Some see this as Mars phasing out an underperforming brand dealing with too much negative publicity.

No Official Recall

Despite the complaints, there has been no formal recall of any Sheba products by Mars or food safety regulators as of yet.

Mars states existing inventories with propylene glycol remain safe to feed as directed on the packaging.

Overall, the propylene glycol controversy has sparked major questions around the safety and transparency of certain Sheba cat food recipes. As the brand gets discontinued, many owners are proactively transitioning their cats to different foods they deem less risky.


The allegations that Sheba cat food makes cats sick have raised concerns among cat owners who want the best for their feline companions. While individual reports of adverse effects cannot be dismissed, it is essential to approach the issue from a balanced perspective.

At present, there is no concrete evidence linking Sheba cat food to widespread health issues in cats. The reported incidents could be attributed to various factors, including individual sensitivities, contamination, or unrelated health issues. It is crucial to consult with a veterinarian if a cat exhibits signs of illness or discomfort after consuming any brand of cat food.

To address these concerns, it is recommended that Sheba conduct thorough investigations into any reported incidents and maintain transparency with consumers about the safety and quality of their products. Cat owners should also be proactive in contacting the manufacturer and reporting any adverse effects their pets experience.

Ultimately, ensuring the health and well-being of cats should be a top priority for cat owners. It is advisable to explore different cat food options, consult with veterinarians, and monitor cats’ reactions to various brands to find the most suitable and safe diet for individual feline companions.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is based on research and general knowledge about cat food and feline health. It is not intended to replace professional veterinary advice. If you have concerns about your cat’s health or specific dietary requirements, consult with a qualified veterinarian.

Share This Article
Leave a comment