KASARGOD: The death of five felines caught from the Covid Care Centre in the General Hospital has created a flutter in Kasaragod. The Animal Husbandry Department conducted a postmortem on one of the cats and is planning to send the organs to the State Institute of Animal Disease Centre to check for Covid-19. “The preliminary report does not show evidence of the virus in the cat. However, we will comment on the cause of death after getting the report,” said the department’s epidemiologist Dr M J Sethulakshmi.
When the General Hospital was converted to a Covid Care Centre, the patients complained to the collector that stray cats were loitering in the wards. Based on the collector’s order, the Department of Animal Husbandry sent in its dog catchers to catch the cats on March 28. “They caught five cats -- a female cat and her two kittens and two adult male cats,” said district animal husbandry officer Dr Unnikrishnan.
The cats were put up in a crate with little aeration at the Animal Birth Control centre in Kasaragod, he said. In two days, the mother cat died. Two more cats died later and on Monday, the kittens died.
“We found hairballs in the junction between the small and the large intestine,” said Dr Titto Joseph, who conducted the postmortem.
There was no evidence of pneumonia in the lungs or haemorrhage in the intestine, which would have pointed to infection by Coronavirus, he said. Both Dr Joseph and Dr Sethulakshmi said the cats could have died due to stress. “The mother cat was under stress after giving birth to the kittens 20 days ago. The change in environment put her in further stress,” said Dr Sethulakshmi. The crate with bad aeration must have sealed its fate.The kittens must have died of starvation after the mother died, they said.
Catchers wore PPE
Dr Joseph said the dog catchers wore personal protective equipment while catching the cats. “They wore the PPE because they went to the Corona ward. Now we have one more reason not to worry,” he said.