Sat, Jun 08, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Virus allegedly sweeping ‘Cat Village’

By Wang Ying-chie and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A cat rests on top of a ledge in the Houtong area of New Taipei City’s Ruifang District on March 30.

Photo: Wang Ying-chieh, Taipei Times

Volunteer animal caretakers yesterday accused the New Taipei City (新北市) Government of negligence over inaction about rumors of feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) spreading in a local tourism hotspot known as “the Cat Village.”

However, the city government has claimed it has not received any reports of an FPV outbreak.

The “Cat Village” is a tourist hotspot in the Houtong area (猴硐) of New Taipei City’s Ruifang District (瑞芳) that became popular since 2009.

It is also the only place in the country that currently has a bridge — resembling a gray cat in appearance — for use by both humans and cats.

A volunteer, surnamed Chou (周), said he brought a cat to a New Taipei City veterinarian after it fell off a roof last month.

After a checkup on May 24, the veterinarian found the cat had contracted FPV, Chou said.

Chou said this was not the first time FPV had been reported in Houtong, adding that volunteer groups have already alerted residents to be on the lookout for sick cats and to help with sanitation by having the cats disinfected.

Previously, an alleged case of FPV had been reported in in Houtong on May 10, volunteers said.

The volunteers also asked that tourists exercise caution while near the cats and refrain from petting them.

If tourists simply cannot resist the urge to pet the cats, they should wash their hands thoroughly afterward, the volunteers said, adding that tourists should also disinfect themselves before returning home.

Tourists should also refrain from bringing their house cats to the area if they have not been vaccinated, they added.

According to Ruifang District’s Gongciao Communal Development Association executive chief Chen Yi-chun (陳宜群), FPV infections usually hit the Houtoung area during this time of year.

Chen asked the government to take into consideration the feelings of Houtong residents and deal with the problem of stray cats.

Meanwhile, the acting chef of the Animal Protection and Health Inspection Office Chang Li-chen (張麗珍) said the office has not received any reports of FPV infections.

According to Chang, all 68 cats in the village were vaccinated during the commencement ceremony of the bridge in February, adding that the vaccines should be good for the entire year.

There should be no problems about FPV, Chang said, adding that the office would look into the matter.

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