RSPCA calls upon cat owners to ensure cats are desexed amid nationwide shortage of animal vaccine

PHARMACIES are not the only businesses feeling the pressure of limited stock, with the RSPCA issuing a caution to pet owners to restrict their cats movements amidst a shortage of vaccine supply.

This shortage has led to concerns for local vet clinics, who are faced with the task of advising owners how best to manage the treatment and vaccination of their cats and kittens while supplies are restricted.

Dr. Kathryn Stalder, one of the local veterinary practice owners, has been doing her best to brace for this problem.

“Over the past few months it has become incredibly difficult to access specific brands of cat vaccines, but in the past week it has become apparent that there is a nation-wide shortage of vaccines that protect cats against feline herpesvirus, calicivirus and panleukopenia virus, which are core diseases that each cat need protection from.”

Dr. Stalder said that the problem will not be short-lived.

“We have been informed that supplies cannot be expected until February 2024.”

As Australia enters the warmer seasons – a time of year that typically sees increased breeding activity amongst felines – owners are being urged to ensure that their companion animals are desexed, and kept indoors as much as possible.

The RSPCA issued a wide press-release this week to explain the shortage and the implications for their animal welfare centres throughout the state.

Dr. Liz Arnott, the Chief Veterinarian for NSW RSPCA, explained the major concerns the organisation has due to the vaccine shortage.

“Core feline vaccinations play a pivotal role in safeguarding cats from not only cat flu, but also the fatal feline panleukopenia virus.

“Although feline panleukopenia is rarely encountered in pet cats and flu symptoms are typically manageable, they are much more commonly seen in a shelter environment and can have dire consequences.”

The announcement outlines the stringent vaccination protocols that the RSPCA employs to prevent outbreaks amongst their animals in shelters.

Because the shortage means that they are unable to maintain this protocol, the organisation will not accept felines into care until a regular supply can be re-established.

This means that strays, unwanted or abandoned litters of kittens and companion animals that can no longer be managed at home cannot be surrendered to an RSPCA facility, and it is likely that other shelters and animal welfare agencies will be forced to make the same decision.

Veterinary clinics are not able to accept surrendered animals, as the costs for care and staffing would be prohibitive.

“The impacts of this shortage will be especially challenging in high density environments such as shelters and catteries,” Dr. Stalder warned.

For this reason owners are being implored to ensure that their cats are desexed and that their movement be restricted as much as possible to prevent uncontrolled breeding and the possibility of viral transmission.

“During kitten season, feline intake at RSPCA NSW increases by eight times, up to 500 kittens each week,” Dr. Arnott said.

“In just two years, a pair of undesexed cats can lead to 20,000 kittens.

“Desexing is vitally important to prevent unwanted pregnancies and keep your beloved feline friend healthy.”

For her own clientele, Dr. Stalder is working to manage her current stock.

“To mitigate the risks and ensure we have adequate doses for kittens, we are offering adult cats the ability to check blood titre levels to ensure continuous protection.

“Maintaining your cats indoors will further limit the risk of disease transmission.”

By Lindsay HALL

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