Investigation into cat deaths completed


HAMILTON ON (October 4, 2013) – The results of an investigation into recent cat deaths in Hamilton indicate the cats died from complications of distemper, and not from poisoning.

The Hamilton/Burlington SPCA (HBSPCA) received several calls in August 2013 from community members concerned about ill and dying cats in the area bounded by Victoria, Sherman, King and Barton. Three cadavers were sent to the University of Guelph and tests indicate there is no evidence of any poisonous substance. The findings did indicate all three cats died from complications as a result of being infected with Panleukopenia, also known as Distemper.

“Feline Panleukopenia is a viral disease of the Parvovirus family, some of the toughest viruses known”, says Dr. Angela Whelan, President of the Hamilton Academy of Veterinary Medicine. “Within 3 to 5 days, an infected cat will show signs of depression and then progress quickly to vomiting and diarrhea and unfortunately, death. Cats will often have a discharge from their eyes and nose. There is no specific cure for Panleukopenia, just intensive nursing care and fluid therapy.”

Parvoviruses can survive in the environment for weeks to months; they are killed only by strong disinfectants such as 2% household bleach. “It’s important to know that humans cannot become sick with this virus”, Dr. Whelan goes on to say. “However, humans can carry the virus on shoes and clothing. Cats contract the disease indirectly from these sources or directly from contaminated feces, water or food bowls if allowed to roam outdoors.”

Prevention is key. “Fortunately, this devastating disease can be prevented by making sure cats are routinely vaccinated”, adds Dr. Whelan. Modern vaccines are very safe and side effects are extremely uncommon. We encourage you to work with your veterinarian to decide the best plan to protect your cat.”

The Hamilton/Burlington SPCA offers advice to keep cats safe and healthy:

  •  Keep vaccinations up to date.
  •  Spay and neuter your pet.
  •  Learn about low cost spay and neuter programs at the HBSPCA.
  •  Help control the feral cat population in your neighborhood through the HBSPCA Trap Neuter Return (TNR) program.
  •  Should your pet become ill, contact your local veterinarian for immediate treatment.
  •  If you have concerns about keeping your pet or providing necessary care, please contact the HBSPCA to discuss options available to you.


The Hamilton/Burlington SPCA is a private, non-profit and 100% donor based charitable organization. There are no public funds to protect animals from people, teach responsible pet ownership and care for animals in our companion animal hospital, kennels and foster homes.

Charitable Registration Number 11923 6750 RR0001

HBSPCA Contact
Paula Golding
Executive Assistant, Office of the President and CEO
Hamilton/Burlington SPCA
Tel: 905-574-7722 ext. 350