October 09, 2014 - 1:00 PM
KAMLOOPS - Four is not a lucky number the local SPCA right now — for the fourth time this year the shelter had to shut down because of ringworm while they deal with four different feral colonies of cats.
Valerie Wilson says the mom and puppies that may have ringworm are in a foster home right now and are being treated there, but they were in the shelter for four days before heading to foster care so the rest of the animals at the shelter had to be treated as a precaution.
“Because of our extended closure last year, we are being hyper vigilant about ringworm this year,” she says, “We have had several one day closures and a few mini quarantines.”
These closures have taken a financial toll on the shelter. There are increased medication and veterinarian costs, fewer adoptions, no retail sales and being closed limits the ability to accept donations as well.
“There is also a stigma around the words 'quarantine' or 'ringworm' that make people shy away from our animals,” Wilson notes, “Although any animal picked up elsewhere could have the same issues, but we are trying to address any medical issues before we send the animal to it's new home.”
Wilson speculates the wetter summers and warmer falls may have something to do with the increase in ringworm over the past couple years since ringworm, like most fungus, thrives in a warm, wet environment.
If another ringworm scare hasn’t been hard enough on the shelter, there are also four feral colonies shelter workers are dealing with, often on their own time. So far 10 cats have been trapped, but there could be as many as 25 more at just the one colony after two of the cats recently had litters.
Of the 10 cats trapped, four have been euthanized because they could not be handled to be 'fixed' or treated for ringworm. Wilson notes the rate for adult euthanization is usually higher, but they have been trying to work with property owners where the colonies live to provide a place for the adult cats to live once they’ve been fixed and treated for any diseases.
Most of the adult cats are not able to be adopted out because they have not been socialized, though the shelter tries to work with kittens under four months to socialize them. This involves 24 hours of care and handling, seven days a week, and often takes at least a month before they are comfortable enough around people to be adopted.
“Given the right circumstances they can be re-homed, but its hard,” Wilson notes, saying just the right conditions need to be provided in order to accommodate a colony cat.
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