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Edgewater Shelter Suffers 'Incredibly Challenging' Cat Ringworm Quarantine

By Kyla Gardner | July 3, 2015 5:56am | Updated on July 6, 2015 8:56am
 Felines and Canines, 6379 N. Paulina St. in Edgewater, closed its cat floor due to exposure to ringworm.
Felines and Canines, 6379 N. Paulina St. in Edgewater, closed its cat floor due to exposure to ringworm.
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Facebook/Felines & Canines

CHICAGO — An Edgewater animal shelter has faced a major setback this summer.

Felines & Canines, 6379 N. Paulina St. in Edgewater, has had to quarantine its cat floor since mid-May, executive director Abby Smith said.

Smith announced the cause of the setback — ringworm — in a public Facebook post on the shelter's page Thursday.

"No one ever said running a shelter would be easy, but with more than 13 years under my belt, I can say this is one of the most difficult, disheartening challenges I've ever faced," Smith wrote.

A cat introduced to the free-range floor was found to have ringworm, a fungus that can spread in felines and people.

Though not life-threatening, it spreads quickly through contact and the air. The cat floor was immediately closed to the public.

Several professionals advised Smith to euthanize the cats with ringworm to take care of the problem swiftly, but Smith didn't agree with their approach.

"Any animal that comes through our door has a lifetime commitment," Smith said. "I don't believe an animal should die over a fungus."

The cat floor at Felines & Canines in Edgewater has been quarantined since mid-May. [Felines and Canines]

Cleaning has been intense for the shelter staff — and the cats.

Workers must wear protective gowns, gloves and booties, and dip their feet in bleach before entering or exiting the wing.

The cats have had to endure smelly lime sulfur dips.

"Some of our cats look so pathetic, it's an awful thing," Smith said. "For friendly cats, it can upset them. For borderline-shy cats, it's pushed them back" into their shells.

The shelter has been unable to accept homeless cats or adopt out any of the cats it has, which has also hurt its income, Smith said.

It also lost a lot of furniture.

"We threw away $4,000 or $5,000 worth of cat trees because they all had carpet on them," Smith said, and she's slowly replacing them with cat trees made out of treated wood.

Felines & Canines is asking for donations that will go toward new cat trees, medicine and air purifiers, Smith said.

Dogs at the shelter have not been affected, and the cat floor might be able to open within four to six weeks.

"I thank everybody for their concern and their support. It's been really sweet," Smith said. "We'll get through this and come out of it a better organization."

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