A shortage of core cat vaccinations has placed a temporary hold on RSPCA NSW accepting any surrendered or stray felines for the next month (four weeks).
This measure is effective immediately and is essential to protecting the wellbeing of cats in the organisation's care.
This will be inacted at all NSW sites, except for the RSPCA Blue Mountains and Illawarra shelters, which will continue to accept cats in line with council pound obligations.
RSPCA NSW Chief Veterinarian, Dr Liz Arnott, said 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," she said.
"These illnesses can spread rapidly in a shelter, leading to large-scale mortality, which is a scenario we are committed to avoiding."
The RSPCA NSW has stringent vaccination protocols for every incoming cat. Unfortunately due to the current vaccine shortage, they are unable to responsibly accept any more felines until they have the necessary supply to correctly mitigate the risks of these illnesses.
Cats already in the care of RSPCA NSW will undergo complete vaccination regiments with the remaining vaccine stock, which will also be used to respond to the intake of cats through its inspectorate.
Dr Arnott urges pet owners to ensure their pet cats are desexed from four months of age and for the community to think about adapting to a safe-at-home lifestyle for their feline friends, especially as cat breeding activity will increase exponentially with longer and warmer days.
"In light of these vaccine shortages, the limited sheltering options and the upcoming kitten season, it's never been more crucial for people to educate themselves on adopting responsible cat ownership practices, as well as what to do if they find a cat or a litter of kittens," she said.
"During kitten season, feline intake at RSPCA NSW increases by eight times, up to 500 kittens each week.
"In just two years, a pair of undesexed cats can lead to 20,000 kittens. Desexing is vitally important to prevent unwanted pregnancies and keeps your beloved feline friend healthy."
If members of the community find a stray cat near their property that appears healthy and uninjured, research indicates it is likely to be receiving food or care from people in the neighbourhood.
In such cases, there is no immediate need to capture the cat and bring it to a shelter.
RSPCA NSW will return to offering desexing, microchipping, and vaccinations once the vaccine shortage permits.
In the meantime, they are encouraging people to use social media or connect with their neighbours to identify those who may be providing care to the cats in the neighbourhood.
This is to ensure the best plans can be made for the cat, when the time is right.
If members of the community find a litter of stray kittens RSPCA NSW recommends referring to the advice on its website.
Despite shelters currently unable to accomodate kittens, the organisation urges people to provide care for them for the next 4-6 weeks, until the required vaccinations are once again in stock.
If people need guidance on caring for kittens, they are asked to contact their local veterinarian or RSPCA NSW over the phone.
For community members that have a litter of kittens they no longer wish to care for, RSPCA NSW will be able to assist them once vaccinations are available.
Throughout this month period, they ask these people to continue caring for the kittens or to find friends or family willing to do so.
RSPCA NSW requests people refrain from letting undesexed kittens outside, as they can begin breeding from as early as fourth-months-old.
People can contact their local vet to see if they have vaccination availability for the kittens, as acceptance of fully vaccinated kittens (with a final vaccine given at 12-weeks or older) would be considered.
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