RSPCA SA warns of highly contagious virus afflicting cats in southern suburbs

December 24, 2019

RSPCA South Australia is warning cat owners to ensure their animals’ vaccinations are up to date following a second confirmed case of feline enteritis, a highly contagious and potentially fatal condition.

Both cats diagnosed with the condition (a species of parvovirus) were unowned cats found by members of the public and taken to vets in recent days. They are part of a colony of stray cats living in and around an industrial car dealership on Beach Road in Christies Beach.

Symptoms of feline enteritis include:

  • Severe and sudden onset of gastroenteritis
  • Vomit or diarrhoea where blood is present
  • Lethargy in kittens and cats over 3-4 weeks old
  • Sudden loss of appetite/stopped eating
  • High fever
  • Dehydration
  • Uncharacteristic hiding
  • Depression

Anyone wishing to bring stray cats that they have found in the Christies Beach area to RSPCA South Australia’s Lonsdale shelter is asked to keep the animal in the car so that the animal can be tested for the virus before it enters the premises.

RSPCA requests that people ring ahead before bringing cats from this area in to the shelter. They are also urged not to bring anything that has had contact with the animal into the shelter and to thoroughly disinfect their hands if they have handled the animal.

The virus is extremely hardy and can survive in the environment for a significant period of time, and thus contaminate food and water bowls, litter trays and the clothing and hands of anyone who handles infected animals.

RSPCA South Australia’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr Brad Ward, said if a contaminated cat came into the shelter, the consequences could be disastrous for cats currently in care at Lonsdale.

“It is vital that we test any stray cats from the Christies Beach area before we admit them to the shelter, particularly because we are receiving so many kittens at this time of the year,” Dr Ward said.

Vaccination provides safe and very effective protection from the disease, and RSPCA urges all cat owners to ensure their cats’ vaccination status is current.

Once positively diagnosed, feline enteritis requires immediate, aggressive treatment if the cat is to survive, as it can be fatal in less than 24 hours.

The condition poses no threat to human health.

If you have further questions about this outbreak and the condition of feline enteritis, you can read our FAQs here. 

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