Panel Pets

Well being Assist for Shelter Cats

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More and more, individuals are adopting cats from shelters and rescues. To be precise, greater than 1.6 million cats and kittens yearly, in response to the ASPCA. Additional proof is the Million Cat Problem (, which was initially launched to avoid wasting the lives of 1 million shelter cats in North America. Exceeding all expectations, the greater than 1,500 North American animal shelters within the Problem saved 2 million cats.

And what about issues that the shelter cat you undertake is a sick cat? “Oh no; the overwhelming majority are simply nice,” reassures Dr. Kate Hurley, director of Koret Shelter Medication Program at College of California, Davis, and a co-founder of the Problem, supported by Maddie’s Fund.

kitten and cat tree

Search out the medical historical past of any cat you’re contemplating adopting. Your shelter could have at minimal essentially the most instant historical past.

Dr. Dean Vicksman, a personal practising veterinarian in Denver, Colorado, who as soon as served because the chair of the board of administrators of the Denver Dumb Pals League and presently is a board member for the Winn Feline Basis. “Completely, there are much more wholesome cats.”

That’s excellent news! And, all these belongings you’ve heard are true. By adopting, you save that life and liberate house for an additional cat. However, what do you have to be on the lookout for in your new rescue cat?

“With regards to adopting a brand new cat into your family, there are a number of components at play that can assist you make one of the best choice,” says Shannon Bowers, a registered veterinary technician and in addition a claims adjuster at Embrace Pet Insurance coverage. “Some of the vital components is the potential new cat’s medical historical past. You, after all, need to make sure that your new pet is wholesome earlier than welcoming her or him into your house and exposing her or him to your different cats.”

The issue is that, after all, in a shelter surroundings there’s seemingly no method to get your entire medical historical past, however the instant historical past is what issues most, which Dr. Vicksman says shelters are ethically obligated to be trustworthy about.


The quicker kittens are faraway from a shelter to a house surroundings, the much less stress and publicity they must infectious illnesses.

When you’re the cautious kind, it’s affordable to undertake a cat who’s been within the shelter some time so any medical situation will maybe have had sufficient time to be uncovered and handled. On the opposite paw, the quicker cats, particularly kittens, are faraway from even one of the best of shelters into a house surroundings, the much less publicity they must infectious illness within the first place. So what illnesses do you have to be looking out for?

Prime potential well being points

Little question the scariest issues are panleukopenia (feline distemper) and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).

Panleukopenia is the feline parvovirus, and it may unfold rapidly by means of a inhabitants of unvaccinated kittens. It’s difficult for shelters, not solely as a result of kittens get so sick that they might not survive, however the virus can survive for as much as a yr within the surroundings. Cats could grow to be contaminated with out ever coming into direct contact with an contaminated cat.

Whereas Winn Feline Basis-funded analysis now exhibits promise for some medicine to deal with FIP, nothing has but been authorized by the FDA. And FIP is in any other case deadly.

“Nothing is so horrible as FIP,” Dr. Hurley says. FIP itself isn’t contagious — although the benign enteric feline coronavirus that mutates in some cats into FIP is contagious. FIP is sophisticated. “FIP definitely happens in well-maintained and well-run conventional shelters, nevertheless it’s uncommon,” Dr. Hurley says. “Largely we expertise FIP with kittens in an overcrowded facility with group housing or many kittens cohabitating in a sanctuary.”

So, take into consideration the ability the place you’re adopting the cat or kitten within the first place. And go to it your self. If the ability is filthy — irrespective of how badly you’re feeling for the poor kitties and also you need to rescue them, it could be prudent to take a move. Fortunately, whereas these situations are critical and undoubtedly life-threatening, adopting a kitten that develops panleukopenia or FIP is uncommon.

The commonest downside is the straightforward herpesvirus. It’s just like the virus that causes chilly sores in individuals and might produce higher respiratory an infection in cats, sort of like our frequent chilly in some ways. And similar to stress in people can manifest these chilly sores, the identical is true in contaminated cats, as stress can immediate signs related to feline higher respiratory infections.

Sometimes, indicators are gentle and will disappear when the stress disappears. Being inside a shelter is hectic, and so are the primary few days, weeks to months in a brand new dwelling. As soon as the cat settles in, that stress goes away — as does the sneezing, runny eyes, runny and stuffy nostril, and urge for food loss.

Generally higher respiratory an infection is power and will seem on and off once more all through the lifetime of the cat. Dr. Vicksman says, “Certain, some cats are power and periodically get fairly sick. And sure, hospitalization might be concerned for these cats. However in my expertise, largely the scientific indicators are gentle, very rare once they do happen.”

Calicivirus is one other frequent respiratory illness in cats. The virus assaults the respiratory tract (nasal passages and lungs), the mouth (with ulceration of the tongue), the intestines and the musculoskeletal system. It’s extremely communicable in unvaccinated cats. Whereas some strains could also be critical, this virus is usually not a menace.

Stress, whereas not a illness, can have an effect on a cat’s well being (and yours, too!). When you see a pheromone diffuser, like Feliway, plugged in on the shelter — that’s an excellent signal that the shelter is making an attempt (and maybe succeeding) at mitigating a minimum of among the nervousness related to dwelling in that surroundings. Research exhibit that Feliway, enhanced enrichment and offering additional house and hiding locations for cats decrease stress. Whereas stress is related to illness in individuals and in canine, an argument could be made that it’s much more true in cats.

Steps to take when bringing dwelling a cat from a shelter

You probably have current cats, hold the brand new cat quarantined for well being causes and to present the cats time to get to know each other by sniffing beneath the door lengthy earlier than they really see one another. (One more reason to plug in a stress-reducing pheromone diffuser.) And, as quickly as you possibly can, go to your personal veterinarian for any vaccines, parasite checks, baseline bloodwork and a basic examination.

vet examining cat

Make visiting the vet together with your new buddy a high precedence when you deliver him dwelling.

One other safety is pet insurance coverage, Shannon from Embrace provides. “Regardless that chances are you’ll ask all the suitable questions relating to the well being of your new cat they usually could also be wholesome while you first undertake them, you by no means know what would possibly develop. That is when pet insurance coverage performs a significant position in your cat’s well being. Enrolling your new cat in pet insurance coverage as quickly as doable may also help with any medical prices which will come up down the street.”

Dr. Vicksman agrees. “You need to get pet insurance coverage as early on as doable, so that you don’t take care of pre-existing situations, and so that you’re protected the primary time one thing occurs,” he says. “I like pet insurance coverage.”

And much more — he loves the concept of adopting. “After all, one thing can occur — that’s life; however in the event you ask questions, odds are your new buddy shall be very wholesome for a really very long time.”


  • Adam Johanson

    Adam Johanson is an animal lover and a blogger at Panelpets. He writes regularly regarding pets and how to take care of them, as well as general news stories about animals. When he isn't writing, Adam can usually be found playing with his two dogs or cuddling his cat.