Methods to prevent the entry of infectious disease in cat shelters

Infectious disease is a major problem in cat shelters. The infection rate goes up 2 to 3 fold when a cat enters a rescue shelter. Some shelters at certain times may be worse places for a cat than being left out as an uncared for stray cat.

Methods used to try and prevent infectious diseases taking hold in cat shelters are:

  • Quarantine for new cats entering the shelter.
  • “Maintaining cats in small, stable groups that are allowed to dwindle as cats are re-homed. Small groups should not be combined for easier management.”
  • House kittens together and apart from adult cats.
  • Cats should be vaccinated 7-10 days after arrival “when general health and disease status have been evaluated”.
  • Short stay cats should be housed apart from long stay cats.
  • “ should be taken to restrict access of any shelter cats as they are sometimes allowed to roam free and may carry infection into or spread infection around the rescue facility.”
  • Accommodation should be easy to clean and should be designed to prevent the spread of disease to other cages e.g. sneeze barriers, wide corridors and a room for cleaning and grooming.
  • Equipment should be confined to each group or individual and hygiene measures taken such as ‘boot dips’.
  • “Cats should be cleaned in the order from the least likely to be infectious to the most likely group.”
  • Shelters staffers should be fully trained on the principles of hygiene in shelters.
  • Stress levels should be minimised through environmental enrichment and good caretaking.

Reference and quotes: Kit Sturgess MA, VetMB, PhD, DSAM, CertVR, CertVC, MRCVS writing in The Welfare of Cats pages 218-219. I quoted extensively for accuracy and it was impractical to personalise the text as it is technical.

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