59 cats euthanized at Harnett County animal shelter after exposure to deadly disease
Posted June 27
Harnett County, N.C. — 59 cats — 11 adult cats and 48 kittens — were euthanized at the Harnett County Animal Shelter last week after exposure to the highly contagious and deadly panleukopenia, also known as feline distemper.
A spokesperson for Harnett County said the cats were euthanized as a public safety measure.
Another 41 cats at the shelter were not exposed to the disease and were not euthanized.
SPCA of Wake County contacted Harnett County Animal Services on June 15 to report that kittens that came from Harnett County had tested positive for feline distemper.
On June 19, shelter staff first learned that a litter of kittens, which had been adopted out from the shelter, had died from the highly contagious and life-threatening viral disease.
The veterinarian observed the shelter’s remaining cats for any signs of sickness and did not find any, but on June 20, animal shelter staff discovered that a cat had died in the shelter.
After that cat tested positive for the disease, the shelter then made the decision to euthanize the exposed cats.
Harnett County staff planned to spend this week cleaning and disinfecting the cat room. They will resume taking in stray cats on Thursday.
Four kittens from the shelter, which were adopted last weekend by two families, may have come into contact with the cats that tested positive for feline distemper before the quarantine began. Shelter staff are trying to contact those families.
Animal Services staff have made attempts to contact the two adopters, but have been unsuccessful.
Symptoms of the disease include vomiting, diarrhea, complete loss of interest in food, dehydration, weight loss and high fever.
The disease is highly contagious among cats but not communicable to dogs and is not related to canine distemper.