VIRGINIA BEACH - "Cat flu" has forced the Virginia Beach SPCA to temporarily stop taking cats that owners want to give up.
The upper respiratory infection can enter the cat’s body via the eyes, nose or mouth.
"Unfortunately, we have had to euthanize five cats that developed severe oral and nasal ulcers and were suffering," Cindy Gendron with the SPCA told WVEC.com.
The SPCA will be watching for signs of the virus in the 208 cats already in the shelter.
“We need to focus the next two weeks on the cats that are already in our care, allow our veterinary staff to tend to any who are showing symptoms and to minimize exposure to the majority, which are healthy,” said Sharon Q. Adams, VBSPCA executive director.
Every surface that a sick cat comes into contact with must be bleached, including bedding, food bowls and toys.
Officials say they would appreciate any donation of bleach to help with the cleaning.
During this two week period, shelter staff will make necessary adaptations to cat housing and address quarantine requirements for any cats showing symptoms of upper respiratory infection.
Staff also will re-vaccinate the cats already there to provide additional protection, so cat adoptions will continue.
The shelter won't be taking cats until Friday, October 12; however, as space permits, unweaned kittens will be accepted because they're sent directly to foster families and not housed in the shelter.
The quarantine doesn't affect dogs and other small animals.
Staff says it's important for owners to be aware that the virus is out there and to keep their cats indoors and make sure they are vaccinated.