Now that acetominophen has shown up in pet foods (in whopping doses), you should know what this common household toxin can do to your pets. Most of you keep this drug around—it’s the ubiquitous Tylenol we trust so well to relieve our fevers and headaches with a minimum of side effects. But it’s not so safe for pets.

Cats are especially susceptible to the dangers of Tylenol. Because they lack the enzymes required to break it down, it has a way of binding to their hemoglobin (that near and dear protein that we all rely on to carry oxygen around our body), thereby limiting it’s ability to do its job properly. So cats die—quickly.

In fact, just one regular strength Tylenol can make a cat very sick—deadly so. Which is why I was perhaps more horrified than most pet owners when I heard that a lab in Texas had found large concentrations of acetominophen in pet food. How much is “large”? about two milligrams pet gram of food in one sample. That’s a confoundingly huge amount for any contaminant, much less for one with a sizable street value.

In fact, I did my own calculation and determined that in the doses measured by this Texas lab, 50% of cats who consumed 100 gram cans of this contaminated cat food every day would die…within just four days.

I don’t provide you this data with the intent to inflame your passions any more than they already have been. We’ve all been through a lot lately. But if this story pans out as more than a few isolated incidents of non-institutionalized contamination, it could be the worst development yet.

Why? Because I, for one, can’t see how this could have happened. This incident makes no sense. On the surface it seems either totally random…or utterly intentional. Why dump expensive human meds into pet food when your goal is to produce a pound of slop for peanuts? Maybe there’s a bad actor copycatting Chinese ingredient wholesalers. Either way, it’s a pretty scary proposition for those of us who still rely on manufactured pet foods.

Truth is, I shouldn’t even begin to speculate here. Barring the unlikely vision of some masked fanatic trying to harm the pet food industry, I have no reasonable explanation to offer.

But there’s another issue that’s left me somewhat taken aback in this case. The Texas lab responsible for testing these samples claims that the pet food company has yet to report its contamination to the FDA. To me, it’s this one fact that’s even scarier than Tylenol toxicity itself. After all, how safe are our pets if individual companies can effectively plead the fifth after receiving independent confirmation of contamination. In fact, it was owners reporting their lab reports online that clued the FDA in on the issue.

I know the FDA is overworked and overtaxed. Still, that’s no reason for its failure to require a company to report its own tainted foods. When the name of this company goes mainstream, I hope its customers consider how cavalierly it handled the health of their pets.