A viral outbreak is tearing through Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission, causing the shelter to temporarily stop taking in stray cats this week.
MADACC will only accept sick and injured stray cats in need of immediate medical attention Aug. 31 through the end of Sept. 8. That means the shelter will no longer take in the typical 30 to 50 cats it usually sees every day this time of year, said Kate Hartlund, Community Engagement Coordinator.
What virus is spreading through the shelter?
After unprecedented intake numbers in the shelter, cases of a virus called feline panleukopenia have skyrocketed amongst cats in the shelter since July. FP is a highly contagious viral disease that infects and kills cells such as bone marrow and intestines.
Symptoms of feline panleukopenia include:
- Loss of appetite
- High Fever
- Severe Diarrhea
- Nasal Discharge
Cats can become infected when in contact with other infected cats or their bedding, cages, food dishes and the hands or clothing of people who’ve handled the infected cats. Young, sick and unvaccinated cats are the most susceptible to the virus.
Likelihood of recovery for infected kittens is rare, and therefore kittens under five months infected with FP at MADACC are being euthanized at high rates, said Hartlund. There are no medications capable of eliminating the virus. Any medical care aims to treat dehydration and provide nutrients.
Why are so many stray cats coming to the shelter?
People across Wisconsin and the country are struggling to care for pets financially and are having to make hard decisions, said Hartlund. Many surrender facilities are also at capacity, resulting in owners leaving their pets as strays, she added.
Where should you take a stray cat?
If you encounter a healthy stray cat, MADACC recommends you leave them outside at this time. “Currently, they have a better chance of surviving if they can either stay with the finder for the next week, or if it’s a healthy adult cat, to just leave it be,” said Hartlund.
Residents can post photos of lost and found cats on MADACC’s website without the need to impound the animal.
Owners looking to surrender a cat should contact their local humane society or private rescue to schedule a surrender appointment. MADACC doesn’t take owner surrendered animals.
Is MADACC still accepting stray dogs?
Yes, stray dog services will continue without interruption.
What is MADACC doing to eliminate the virus from the shelter?
University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine’s Shelter Medicine Program will help MADACC manage the current population and help transfer healthy animals to other shelters for adoption to make space at the shelter.
MADACC will increase testing and will be working toward creating a newly opened animal ward that is fully cleaned for new intakes and will not have any exposure to the remaining population.
Will adoption services continue during this time?
Yes, animal adoptions will continue without interruption during this time. MADACC will adopt out cats that are fully vaccinated and will make sure they “feel incredibly confident the cat is not at risk of disease,” said Hartlund.
How to vaccinate your animal
If your veterinarian can’t fit you in for routine care, you can contact your local animal shelter or check local pet stores that provide low-cost vaccines.
MADACC offers vaccines on Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 2: 30 p.m. for cats and dogs. Call 414-649-8640 to make an appointment. Each vaccine is $15 for rabies and distemper.
The Wisconsin Humane Society offers vaccines at the its locations across the state. To view upcoming clinic dates and available time slots, visit the WHS website at wihumane.org.
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