All herpes-infected cats adopted

Published 11:03 am Monday, February 6, 2012

ISLE OF WIGHT—A 28-year-old Hampton woman who couldn’t bare to see seven feline herpes-infected cats put to death has taken in the animals.

Lori Johnson, a Farm Fresh department manager, on Sunday adopted the last of the 30 cats with the virus from the Isle of Wight Animal Shelter so the facility can be put through a 30-day decontamination period.

“The cats needed to get out of there,” Johnson said, noting they also have ringworm, which can be passed onto humans and other animals through touch.

“It was a life-or-death situation. Once they are better, I have some people already interested in them,” she said.

Shelter officials last week announced that the cats were infected with the virus, which can only be passed onto other cats. A public plea was made for people to adopt the cats by Sunday, or they would be put down.

“Folks from Williamsburg, Norfolk, Hampton, Virginia Beach, Smithfield and Isle of Wight came forward to offer both foster and forever homes for the cats,” said Kristin Wilda, spokeswoman for Sheriff’s Office, which oversees the shelter on Poor House Road in Isle of Wight.

The Isle of Wight County Humane Society, a no-kill organization, provided foster homes for nearly half of the cats until they can be adopted.

Feline herpes can be treated. Symptoms, which are compounded in a shelter environment because of stress, include runny nose, runny eyes, upper respiratory infections and ulcers on the face.

Now that all of the cats are gone, shelter officials will begin the decontamination process, Wilda said. It will involve daily disinfecting of all rooms and areas. A bactericide/virucide solution will be used to rid the shelter of the virus. No cats will be admitted to the shelter during this period.

Johnson said she will treat the cats for the virus and ringworm. Animal shelter officials gave her medicine to treat the virus and she’s had medication and supplies donated.

Johnson has three dogs and a cat. Her cat has been taken elsewhere.

“Right now, I have them (the seven cats) in a bedroom,” she said. “It’s the quarantine room. They’re not mean and not terminal. It’s just they couldn’t be housed there (the shelter) because they are sick.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to Johnson for the cats’ care can contact her at 757-508-2206.

The Sheriff’s Office is grateful for the public’s response.

“I want to thank all of you for your help in getting this story to the public,” Wilda said. “We were overwhelmed by the response of generous animal lovers in the area.”