Illawarra cat owners are being urged to keep their pet's vaccinations up-to-date amid a national vaccine shortage.
The shortage is so dire that RSPCA NSW shelters, including in the Illawarra, have put a one-month ban on cat surrenders as vets struggle to source vaccines.
"Core feline vaccinations play a pivotal role in safeguarding cats from not only cat flu, but also the fatal feline panleukopenia virus," RSPCA NSW chief veterinarian Dr Liz Arnott said.
"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."
Animal Welfare League (AWL) NSW Illawarra Branch secretary Donna Ashelford urged cat owners not to panic.
"It's very wise for people to keep their vaccinations up-to-date in case there's more severe shortages," she said.
"I've spoken to local vets and while they may not be able to get the same brands they usually use, they advise the lack of availability is no worse than the last 12 months."
During the ban RSPCA's Illawarra branch will continue to accept stray cats through its impounding service contracts with Wollongong and Shellharbour councils.
Remaining vaccination stock at this branch will be used for cats already in care, or those brought in through council contracts.
AWL will continue to accept cat and kitten surrenders, however it does not have a facility so all cats coming in are helped by volunteer foster carers.
With kitten season about to start, Ms Ashelford urged anyone interested in being a foster carer to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The RSPCA's ban on car and kitten surrenders runs for four weeks from October 18, 2023.
If the cat appears healthy and uninjured, the RSPCA said it's likely to be receiving food or care from people in the neighbourhood. There is no immediate need to capture the cat and bring it to a shelter.
RSPCA urges people to provide care for them for the next four to six weeks until vaccinations are in stock.
Advice on care can be obtained from the RSPCA's website or call 9970 7555.
"Please refrain from letting them outside if they have not been desexed, as kittens can begin breeding as early as four months of age," the charity states.
"You can contact your local vet to see if they have vaccination availability for your kittens as acceptance of fully vaccinated kittens (with a final vaccine given at 12 weeks or older) will be considered."
The RSPCA will return to offering desexing, microchipping, and vaccinations once the vaccination shortage permits.
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