The cats of Farmington, New Hampshire, a town located near the state’s border with Maine, are not having a good month. Last Tuesday, a woman was bitten by a cat that turned out to have rabies.
Many stray, feral, and free-roaming domestic cats live near the woman’s home, so authorities have launched a massive cat-trapping campaign in the area. Six cats who made their home in a nearby garage were trapped, killed, and sent to the state lab for testing to determine whether they had been exposed to rabies.
According to Farmington Interim Police Chief Kevin Willey, any remaining cats will be trapped and quarantined and checked by a vet to make sure they aren’t rabid. But Wiley also said, "We are actively trapping cats which we believe to be stray. In turn, we’re euthanizing them in order to reduce the stray population in likelihood of exposure to the rabies virus."
So which is it? Trap-quarantine-observe or trap-and-kill?
If it’s trap-and-kill, the town’s animal control officer must know that will only create a vacuum, which more feral cats will fill.
Town officials will determine today if further action is needed.
Hopefully the authorities decide that a better solution would be to trap, quarantine, and observe the cats, then neuter and vaccinate any healthy ones and release them back into their community. The police are urging residents to microchip their cats so that if they’re trapped they can be returned to their homes, and to be sure that their feline friends are up to date on their shots. The town is moving its annual fall rabies vaccination clinic from October to September in hopes of ensuring that as many animals as possible will be protected from the virus.
I live in Maine, and I can attest to the fact that it’s been a bad summer for rabies in northern New England. Vaccination and quarantine rules have become very strict here as a result. One of my cats was bitten by another one of my cats, and although both parties were up to date on their shots, the vet still had to follow Maine’s rabies management guidelines for a “wound of unknown origin/suspicious bite” by giving the bitten cat a rabies booster, notifying an animal control officer, and ensuring that she’d be quarantined for 45 days (she’s an indoor-only cat, so the vet told me that’s all the quarantine she needs).
Rabies is not a joke. There is no cure once an animal gets the disease, and treatment for humans is long, painful, and costly. People who are exposed to rabies and don’t get prompt treatment will die from the disease. Please, folks, get your cats up to date on their rabies vaccine, even if they’re indoor-only cats.
Source: Foster’s Daily Democrat