CORNER BROOK — An unidentified illness is spreading to cats housed at the old fire station in Curling that were retrieved from a house on McWhirter’s Lane in May.
LeeAnn O’Reilly, of the NL West BOI SPCA, said the group is treating the situation as a “worst case scenario, as if they were all infected.”
The doors to the shelter have been closed, and only staff trained in diseased cats will handle the animals.
O’Reilly said she will not say how many cats have been infected, only that “several” displayed symptoms as of Sunday evening. The group is working under the direction of Dr. Hugh Whitney, the province’s chief veterinary officer to address the issue. The illness appears to be respiratory-based, with eye and nasal discharge. The SPCA hopes to have a diagnosis sometime today.
All the cats have been vaccinated and declared perfectly healthy, since they were seized by the SPCA in the spring. It is unknown if the illness is a threat to humans, O’Reilly said.
She said it is fortunate the cats have gone so long without an illness breakout.
“We’ve been warned,” she said. “When you get a lot of animals into a tight and confined space the rate for infection is much higher.”
The unidentified illness presented itself early last week, when shelter staff noticed typically playful healthy cats were becoming lethargic
In the past week, seven cats have been euthanized, upon consultation from a veterinarian, because they were very sick, said O’Reilly.
“Bottom line is we’re trying go give the cats a chance,” she said. “But we can’t have an animal suffering.”
It is unknown at this time if all seven cats were infected with the same illness. The feline carcasses have been sent for evaluation at the University of Prince Edward Island.
There were 74 cats are remaining of over 200 that were originally removed from the property.