OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Vet clinics and animal shelters in the Oklahoma City metro have seen an overwhelming number of cases of a deadly virus in area cats. It’s called Feline Panleukopenia.
Several vet hospitals have diagnosed a large number of cases, more than it has seen in years. Pet owners have concerns about how to protect their furry family members, like Alura Berg who had two cats die from the virus.
“I noticed that Sylvester couldn’t breathe,” said Berg, who lost her six-and-a-half year old female cat Sylvester last month. “You could hear it in her chest and her nose and her eyes started getting a goop around them.”
Berg took Sylvester to the vet but clinic wasn’t sure of a diagnosis. Treatment after treatment failed and the symptoms only got worse.
“She wouldn’t drink anything. I had to make her take probiotic to make her use the bathroom. She suffered and none of us knew what was wrong,” said Berg. “She ended up dying at home, and about a month after she died was when my baby cat started getting symptoms and she had the same thing.”
Berg ended up having to have her second cat, Cache, put down so it wouldn’t suffer. It wasn’t until she saw a post on Neel’s Veterinary Hospital Facebook page that she realized what had happened.
“I knew that was exactly what it was.”
The Facebook post warned pet owners to be aware of the fatal virus spreading throughout the metro. The clinic had seen more cases in a two-week span than it had in years.
Feline Panleukopenia is similar to parvo for dogs. Infected cats and kittens appear lethargic and suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, and nasal discharge. The virus has a 90 percent fatality rate.
At the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter, there has been an increase in cases as well with two glass hospital areas filled with quarantined cats.
“These cats were exposed prior to coming in the shelter or their siblings have broke with symptoms,” said Crystal Wise, an administrative specialist at the shelter.
Wise said the shelter has been overwhelmed with cases which has put a strain on the shelter’s space and budget.
“Cats are moved every few days to get them into homes and then to give room for more cats who need a place to go,” said Wise. “These two rooms are basically on lockdown, so we can’t bring in any more that need help as long as these are here.”
Doctors at Neel Vet Hospital said kittens and unvaccinated cats are the most vulnerable and the virus is extremely contagious. A person can even unknowingly bring the virus inside on the bottom of their shoes or hands and infect inside cats.
Berg said her two cats were last vaccinated in 2020 and hoped getting the word out about the virus will help save other families from going through the same sadness.
“It was just really hard to watch. They were my babies.”
Animal experts said the best way to fight against the virus was to get your animal vaccinated as soon as it is possible.