Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control halts feline adoptions amid virus outbreak

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control has suspended the adoption and admission of adolescent cats and kittens due to a recent outbreak of a highly contagious viral disease.

The shelter said Thursday it was working to contain and decontaminate amid an outbreak of feline panleukopenia, a potentially deadly virus that spreads when a cat or kitten comes into contact with infected feces, vomit, secretions nasal passages and other bodily excretions. It mainly affects unvaccinated kittens and can cause fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea or death.

Feline panleukopenia does not affect people or other types of animals such as dogs.

Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control said it was suspending all adoptions of adolescent cats and kittens until Tuesday, Aug. 23, or until it is safe, “to ensure the disease does not continue to spread to cats in our community”.

The shelter will also not be accepting any cats or kittens until at least September 1, or until medical staff determine that it can resume normal operations.

In the meantime, staff were testing and monitoring all cats currently at the shelter. All cats and kittens are vaccinated when they come to Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control.

Anyone who has adopted a cat or kitten from Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control, whether in the shelter or offsite, since August 1 must watch their pet at home. If he has or is showing symptoms, please call our office at 427-1244 option 1 immediately. Staff are working to contact adopters who may be affected by the outbreak.

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Citizens who currently have an appointment to surrender an at-risk cat or kitten will be contacted and offered options to have the cat vaccinated at the shelter and then kept at their home until the shelter is ready and able to take the cat or kitten. Citizens bringing stray cats or kittens will be offered the same service, vaccinations and then the possibility of keeping them at home to prevent further spread of the disease. FWACC is an open-access shelter, so if the citizen does not wish to bring the cat or kitten home, we will take care of it.

To further stop the spread of the disease in our community, all cats in the community will be vaccinated against feline panleukopenia before being returned to their colony.

Feline panleukopenia is a preventable disease. FWACC urges all pet owners to ensure their cats are up to date on current vaccines. Kittens can receive the first cycle of vaccines to prevent fatal disease at 4-6 weeks and should receive boosters as recommended by a veterinarian. Adult cats should also be vaccinated to prevent the disease.

The shelter is seeking immediate help from the community with donations to the Angel Fund to help cover the cost of additional vaccinations needed for cats in the community and necessary care for affected cats.

Those wishing to donate can help by purchasing needed supplies through the shelter’s Amazon wishlist or by making monetary donations through the shelter’s website.

Benjamin M. Yerger