Illness prompts shelter to halt cat adoptions

Hannah Grover

FARMINGTON — The Farmington Regional Animal Shelter has stopped making cats available for adoption after several felines were diagnosed with panleukopenia, a parvo virus commonly known as feline distemper.

The Farmington Regional Animal Shelter temporarily has stopped making cats available for adoption after several of them were diagnosed with a parvo virus.

The cats were diagnosed with panleukopenia in early September. The cat adoptions were suspended this week for at least 14 days, and the cat rooms are closed to the public. People looking to adopt cats can adopt from the Aztec Animal Shelter, the La Plata County Humane Society in Durango, Colo., or One Homeless Cat at a Time Rescue in Farmington.

People who find stray cats are encouraged to let the feline roam rather than taking it to the shelter, where it could possibly catch panleukopenia. Shelter Director Stacie Voss said Farmington does not have any cat leash laws and the "stray" cats often have owners.

Tina Roper, the director of the Aztec shelter, said her facility will take in stray cats from around the county. The shelter is located at 825 Sabena St.

"We'll help out however we can," she said.

Some cats that were adopted from the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter have tested positive for panleukopenia, Voss said.

Director Stacie Voss stands inside one of the rooms where cats are being quarantined on Friday at the Farmington Regional Animal Shelter.

Cats often don't show signs of illness when they have panleukopenia, and Voss said the symptoms are subtle when there are symptoms. She said those symptoms include lack of appetite, bloody diarrhea and vomiting.

"We had a couple of cats that we were finding suddenly deceased in their kennels," Voss said.

She said the shelter has not had problems with panleukopenia in the past and did not immediately connect the deaths with the virus.

"It's not unusual to find kittens deceased," she said. "They're kind of fragile when they're young."

When shelter employees found a mother cat and two of her three kittens dead, Voss said the staff became suspicious and ordered the panleukopenia test, which arrived the first week of September.

When cats are suffering from panleukopenia, the symptoms can include lack of appetite, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, according to Farmington Regional Animal Shelter Director Stacie Voss.

Because panleukopenia is a virus, there is no treatment for the disease. Voss said the virus was likely brought into the shelter by a cat that did not show any signs of illness.

"Everything starts from animals coming in unvaccinated," she said.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.