LOGAN — A fast-spreading virus has forced the Cache Humane Society to euthanize its entire population of 30 cats, administrators said Wednesday.
Executive Director Roland Bringhurst said four cats displayed advanced symptoms of feline calicivirus on Monday, as did 10 more on Tuesday. The first case of the virus showed up in the shelter weeks ago, and workers had been trying to isolate and euthanize the sick cats as necessary.
Feline calicivirus can lead to ulcers around the mouth and swelling of the mouth and nose, as well as arthritis and pneumonia.
“(It's a) very sad situation,” Bringhurst said. “This virus leads to an agonizing and very painful death in cats.”
Bringhurst said the facility was being disinfected and would not take on any new cats for 10 days.
Meanwhile, workers were assessing what could be done differently to prevent a mass euthanization the next time a serious virus surfaces in the population. Bringhurst said extra emphasis will be placed on early detection.
In its initial stages, feline calicivirus is accompanied by symptoms, including runny nose, sneezing and a limp in kittens. The limp is related to arthritis.
Bringhurst said the virus is carried within all cats, and it takes some sort of event to cause the disease to manifest. Animal advocates said Wednesday the case highlights why it’s important for all cats — and other pets — to be vaccinated.
Humane Society of Utah spokesman Carl Arky said a scenario like what unfolded in Logan is not entirely uncommon.
“Those are the tough choices,” he said.
The Murray shelter in its long past had also had to resort to mass euthanizations because of serious animal diseases.
Arky said dogs can be susceptible to different, fast-spreading viruses.
“You’re never really certain what you’re receiving,” he said. “You have to find out over time.”
Ultimately, shelters have to weigh the risk to the rest of the pet population in decisions of whether to euthanize.
“It’s a shame when it happens, but it does happen,” Arky said. “You have to think of all of the cats, and you have to think of the greater good.”
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company