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Health and Welfare

International Cat Day 2023 – raising awareness for the cats of Cyprus

By 8 August 2023No Comments

A mutation of FIP caused by a new strain of Feline Coronavirus (FCov-2023) came to the attention of veterinarians in Cyprus in January of this year. An increasing number of cases were gradually observed in the districts of Larnaca, Limassol and Famagusta; within 12 weeks the number of PCR-confirmed FIP cases increased more than 20 times compared to the previous year, including to indoor cats, which suggests a highly virulent strain of feline coronavirus is present on the island. In the UK, FIP does not normally behave like an infectious disease and most cases are isolated incidents. However, in this outbreak affected cats are highly infectious and the disease spreads rapidly once the virus enters a group or colony.

According to Nektaria Ioannou Arsenaoglou, director of the Pancyprian Veterinary Association, there have been around 8,000 deaths, although there are media reports of many more. The veterinary association has assembled a task force to monitor the spread of the mutation and inform fellow vets and activists of the latest developments. Thankfully, measures have already been enacted to prevent the export of the mutation through mandatory medical check-ups of all felines destined for adoption abroad.

The University of Edinburgh is currently working with veterinarians in Cyprus and is in the process of sequencing the new viral strain associated with the current outbreak, which will help provide more information about its spread and control. Import of a legal source of GS-441524 has also been secured to treat cats diagnosed with FIP, but its use will be limited by cost, particularly for the unowned/stray cat population.
GCCF will be helping on two fronts:

Firstly by donating directly through GCCF’s own charity, the Cat Welfare Trust, to the work being undertaken at the University of Edinburgh – this will have benefits for all cats.

Secondly by setting up a GoFundMe page where UK cat owners will be encouraged to donate towards the cost of treating cats in Cyprus. The good news is that the Cyprus government has agreed to unused human coronavirus medication to be used on cats. Cat owners can receive the medication in pill form at around £2.20 for each pill from their own Vet following a formal examination and diagnosis.

Help us to support the cats of Cyprus by donating to the Cat Welfare Trust, or via our GoFundMe page – thank you!