Dozens Of Cats Euthanized To Prevent Spread Of Disease

By Eric Flack

(LOUISVILLE, April 13th, 2004, 1 p.m.) -- Dozens of cats had to be put down recently at the Kentucky Humane Society because of a deadly disease. WAVE 3 Investigator Eric Flack reports.

It was last week when officials at the Kentucky Humane Society realized that all 45 of its cats, including those waiting for adoption at area Feeder Supply stores, would have to be put down. The reason: a rare illness called panleukopenia. "We did have nine confirmed cases verified through the UK Diagnostic Lab," said Lori Kane.

Panleukopenia is the feline version of parvo in dogs. It's a disease that's difficult to treat and easy to spread. Even cats that have been vaccinated against the disease can pass it on, which is why the decision was made to euthanize all of it cats, not just the ones showing symptoms.

"From what I got from our veterinarians, this was our only option," Kane said. "It's not something that we like to do."

Dr. Manta Loster, a Louisville veterinarian, says there could have been legal consequences if the cats weren't destroyed. "From a legal point of view, they have to be careful with what they send out into the community."

Loster says treating panleukopenia is expensive, and not always effective. "It's a very, very strong virus. It's hard to kill it."

The cages and rooms where the cats were kept are being disinfected, and the Humane Society won't be able to accept any cats for two weeks. "We've disassembled the cages and cleaned the floors."

The shelter will begin accepting cats again April 22nd.

There's still a chance infected cats from the Humane Society could have been adopted before the panleukopenia was diagnosed. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite.

Online Reporter: Eric Flack

Online Producer: Michael Dever