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Shelter forced to kill more than 100 cats and kittens

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OKLAHOMA CITY - More than 100 cats and kittens were killed at the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter Thursday.

They say a stray cat that someone turned over to them last week brought in a deadly disease called panleukopenia, described as the cat form of parvo.

Jon Gary has worked at the shelter for 14 years and has never seen an outbreak spread so fast.

"The bad thing about pan leukopenia, what we`ve seen in a lot of cats, especially kittens, is they`ll appear fine one day and we`ll come in the next morning and they will have died overnight."

Despite immediate quarantine, the disease spread to most of the shelter's rooms in the cat area.

"It`s very quickly acting." Gary said. "If we don`t catch it early and they don`t start some heavy treatment, and usually in order to be treated for it they need to be hospitalized. Which is why we can`t do a lot of treatment here."

It was a hard decision to euthanize the 129 cats and kittens infected with panleukopenia. The staff is now hand-cleaning each room that housed an infected animal, about 12 rooms in all, plus all the cages.

Gary admits the euthanization was the only way to make sure the other animals stayed safe, but it is the worst part of the job.

"We work so hard every day to save as many as we can and so when things like this happen and decisions like this have to be made to ultimately save more lives, it`s just difficult on everybody." He said.

The shelter does health checks and vaccinations on every animal they take in, but panleukopenia is very difficult to detect. They assure everyone, though, that the rest of their cats and kittens are healthy and ready to be adopted.

If you want to adopt an animal from the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter, click here.