Cat adoptions have been put on hold for the past 16 days at the Greater Moncton SPCA after a potentially fatal respiratory virus plagued the shelter last month. The outbreak has caused stress for both the animals and employees of the shelter.
SPCA staff have spent days on their hands and knees, disinfecting all of the cages and kennels in the cat rooms. The shelter decided to close their visitation rooms and stop all feline adoptions on September 20 when they noticed an outbreak of an upper respiratory infection in some of the 150 cats currently in their care.
"They might get crusties around their eyes or around their nose, and a lot of sneezing," says veterinarian, Dr. Adele Doucet, who notes the cats contracted Feline Calicivirus and had to be treated with antibiotics and immune boosters to help with their recovery.
“There’s a few different products that we can use that really help, and that usually is enough to treat it,” says Doucet. “However, sometimes you do need antibiotics. In these cases they're actually having a hard time, even with antibiotics, so it's quite a strong strain.”
Aside from the health and well-being of the animals and staff, the outbreak has taken a toll on the shelter financially.
“We've had to bring in extra help for those deep cleans,” says SPCA team leader, Heather Smith. “So there’s wages there, there's a lot of extra medical expenses, so that was a big financial strain.”
Smith says the shelter has asked people to hold off on bringing new cats to the SPCA until the virus is contained, but she understands that's not always an option.
“We're doing the best we can, but there's a lot of extra workload on staff; we're trying to accommodate everyone,” says Smith. “So. when we can open and have cats going out to homes, that's going to take a lot of pressure off.”
Meanwhile, Smith says while not all of the cats and kittens are fully recovered just yet, the SPCA hopes to open one of the two visitation rooms housing the healthier felines to the public by Monday.