PAWS cat house quarantined

Savannah Vasquez

FORT WALTON BEACH — The cat house at the Panhandle Animal Welfare Society is under quarantine because of an extremely contagious disease called feline panleukopenia, or feline parvovirus (FP).

PAWS Director Dee Thompson said that the quarantine was called after three cats became ill with the disease. Two of the cats have since died, while the third seems to be improving. Currently, 34 cats are under quarantine while 38 are being monitored in the canine side of the building.

The Santa Rosa County Animal Shelter also suspended intake and adoption of cats and kittens earlier this week because of the same virus.

“It is a very hardy virus, very strong and could live on anything,” Thompson said of FP. “There is no antidote to the virus, but we can give supportive care.”

According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, FP is a highly contagious viral disease among cats that attacks cells such as those in the bone marrow and intestines. Kittens and young cats are most susceptible to the disease, which is not transferable to humans.

Thompson said the animal shelter has quarantined the entire cat house and is working with veterinarians from the University of Florida to combat the disease.

“We are working with the University of Florida and Dr. Julie Levy with immediate response, and she is showing us how to handle the whole thing,” Thompson said. “Every cat has been re-vaccinated, and we have quarantined our cat house and are also monitoring our strays and the cats that are in this side (the other section of PAWS).”

Thompson said donations are being accepted for one-time-use sheets and towels to help curb the illness. There will be no adoptions for the next two weeks until the quarantine is lifted.

“We are not adopting anything out of there for the next 15 days, and we are not taking any owned cats right now,” Thompson said. “We are trying to keep cats out of the building.”

For more information on FP, visit the American Veterinary Medical Foundation website at

To make a donation to PAWS, call 243-1525 or visit