Guilford County Animal Services announced on Tuesday, Oct. 3 that the animal shelter is pausing its intake of cats and kittens for the remainder of the week after identifying likely cases of feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) in three stray cats brought to the shelter.

Animal Services workers are currently isolating infected cats to reduce the spread of FPV to other cats and kittens held there.

The strays came from both Greensboro and High Point, and, even though these were stray animals, Animal Services staff wants everyone to know that FPV can also be found in house cats.

Guilford County Animal Services Director Jorge Ortega said in a prepared statement that county residents can help the shelter out by fostering cats.

“FPV is highly contagious in kittens and unvaccinated cats and can be fatal,” he stated Tuesday.  “We are taking every necessary step to isolate this virus from the feline population at the resource center, including pausing intake of cats through the end of the week. We are confident our adoptable cats have not been exposed to FPV and are safe to encounter other pets in your home. If you’re not ready to adopt, we really need members of the community to consider participating in the Stray to Foster program as our resource center continues to operate at or near capacity.”

Feline panleukopenia is a highly contagious viral infectious disease found in cats. The virus affects kittens and cats, and it causes the feline to lose all defenses against any viruses or bacteria. If the disease is not diagnosed and treated, it can be fatal. The incubation period for FPV is 14 days.

Infected cats display the disease by “vomiting, diarrhea, depression, painful abdomen, lack of appetite, dehydration, lethargy, fever or sudden death.”

The disease can spread when a cat ingests viral material present in feces, urine, saliva or vomit. FPV transmission can occur through shared litter boxes or simply by cats living in close proximity to each other.

Currently, the shelter is managing the disease by quarantine – and, if required, euthanasia.

Vaccination is the best method to prevent this virus. The county is encouraging cat owners to consult with their veterinarian to discuss if your cat is eligible for vaccination.

Adoptable cats have been isolated from the felines exposed to FPV.

Guilford County Animal Services encourages families to sign up for the Stray to Foster Program and to temporarily foster a stray or surrendered cat. Participants in the  program will care for an animal for 72 hours and serve as advocates for those animals during the three-day period by posting pictures and information on lost pet websites and social media sites.

Animal Services provides crates, food, blankets and bowls for foster families.

Residents interested in becoming a Stray to Foster family should contact Animal Services at 336-641-3400.