Cat adoptions at Otago SPCA are on hold for two weeks after
about 40 cats were exposed to a deadly feline virus. Photo
by Stephen Jaquiery.
The Otago SPCA's cat adoption centre has been closed and
put under strict quarantine conditions after about 40 cats came
into contact with a highly contagious and deadly virus.
Executive officer Sophie McSkimmings said it was believed a
stray cat carrying the feline panleukopenia virus (FPV)
infected others at the centre after being brought in by the
She said all cats brought to the SPCA were quarantined for
seven days, and those showing illness while in quarantine
were put in isolation.
The SPCA had about 120 cats at present, but only 40 had come
into contact with the sick cat, she said.
Feline parvovirus causes FPV, which primarily attacks the
stomach lining and the bone marrow.
Symptoms include vomiting, profuse and bloody diarrhoea,
anaemia and severe dehydration.
In about 90% of cases, unvaccinated cats would die.
Most of the 40 cats which came in contact with the infected
cat were vaccinated, she said.
So far, the virus had killed six cats at the SPCA, but the
number could increase.
''It's been harrowing to watch ... It's terrible, terrible,
The virus can be spread long distances through contact with
bedding, food dishes or even by the clothing and shoes of
handlers of infected animals.
It could not be contracted by humans or dogs, she said.
The virus can kill cats within 24 hours of symptoms
Pets already adopted were not expected to be affected, but
any owners noticing their cat was unwell should take it to a
The Otago SPCA would remain open, but the pet adoption centre
would be closed to the public until May 8, she said.
''It's to make very, very sure that we don't get this in our
''It's going to affect us hugely.
''Of course, it's a big loss of income for us. We don't make
a lot of money out of adopting cats, but it certainly helps
keep the place ticking over.''
FPV was still a major issue in Dunedin, because some people
did not vaccinate their cats, she said.
''This has all come from people not caring for their animals
and then dumping them.
''There are so many stray cats in the city. We need help.''