Warning to Durban feral cat carers

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CATS of Durban has issued a warning to those residents who look after stray and feral cats that it has noticed an increase in the number of cat deaths from Pan Leukopenia.

Niki Moore from Cats of Durban said a stray cat the organisation sterilised two months ago died of Pan last week. She said this was a highly contagious disease, a feline type of the Parvo virus found in dogs. She said any cat that dies of Pan needs to be incinerated, not buried, as the virus lives in the soil for around six months. Unfortunately, there is no cure and the disease kills quickly.

Moore said the first visible symptom is when a cat is crouched in an uncomfortable-looking position and seems dazed. A stray or feral will not run away. During the final stages, the cat will lie next to a water bowl, seeming to hang over it but unable to drink. There will possibly be foam or saliva dripping from its mouth.

“If you handle such a cat, make sure that you clean and disinfect yourself thoroughly afterwards with a strong solution of F10. Wash clothes and the cat’s bedding in hot water and wipe down surfaces with bleach. We had a terrible outbreak at the end of 2017 and we were accused of not taking the epidemic seriously – that was because it had never been quite so deadly or virulent before. We will not make that mistake again,” she said.

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Moore said Pan is an extremely common disease and is usually not fatal to adult or innoculated cats, however, she said this latest strain is vicious and kills quickly and indiscriminately, even cats that do not appear to be at risk.

“If feeders of colonies start finding their cats disappearing, or they find dead cats with foam around their mouths, it is likely they have died of Pan. There is nothing you can do except keep your own cats safe. Trappers are urged to wash their traps and covers with bleach. Get a spray bottle with a strong F10 solution and spray yourself while working with cats,” she said.

Moore stressed that this warning was not aimed at pet owners, but rather people looking after stray or feral cats. She went on to urge cat owners to get their cat innoculations up to date.


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