RSPCA NSW shelters unable to accept surrendered or stray felines for one month – vaccine supply shortage

In response to a nationwide supply shortage of core cat vaccinations, RSPCA NSW will be placing a temporary hold on accepting any surrendered or stray felines for the next month (four weeks) at all sites, except for our Blue Mountains and Illawarra shelters, which will continue to accept strays only, in line with council pound obligations during this period.

This temporary measure is effective immediately and is essential to protect the wellbeing of the cats in our care.

“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,” said RSPCA NSW Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Liz Arnott.

“These illnesses can spread rapidly in a shelter, leading to large-scale mortality, which is a scenario we are committed to avoiding.”

To mitigate this risk, RSPCA NSW has stringent vaccination protocols for every incoming cat. Unfortunately, with the current vaccine shortage, we cannot responsibly accept any more felines until we have the necessary supply to do so.

The remaining vaccination stock will be used to complete vaccine regimes for cats already in our care and to respond to the intake of cats through our inspectorate.

Now that the days are getting longer and warmer and cat breeding activity will increase exponentially, Dr. Arnott urges pet owners to ensure their pet cats are desexed from four months of age and for the community to start thinking about adapting to a safe-at-home lifestyle for their feline friends.

“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.”

“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,” she explains.

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What can members of the community do if they find a stray cat

  • If you happen to come across a cat near your property that appears healthy and uninjured, research indicates that 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 is committed to assisting by offering desexing, microchipping, and vaccinations once the vaccination shortage permits. In the meantime, we encourage you to use social media or connect with neighbours to identify those who may be providing care, ensuring the best plans can be made for the cat when the time is right.

What can members of the community do if they find stray kittens

  • In the case of finding a litter of stray kittens, we recommend referring to the advice on the RSPCA NSW website. While our shelters are currently unable to accommodate these kittens, we urge you to provide care for them for the next 4 – 6 weeks until RSPCA NSW has vaccinations in stock. If you need guidance on caring for kittens, please contact your veterinarian or RSPCA NSW over the phone.
  • For those who have a litter of kittens they no longer wish to care for, RSPCA NSW will be able to assist once vaccinations are available in the coming weeks. During this period, you will need to continue caring for the kittens or find friends or family willing to do so. Please refrain from letting them outside if they have not been desexed, as kittens can begin breeding as early as four months of age. 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.

We understand the concerns and challenges this unprecedented situation may pose, and we appreciate the community’s understanding and support during this critical period.