An ongoing shortage of cat vaccine has forced the City of Greater Geelong to halt its cat trapping service, and to offer owners incentives to hold on to unwanted pets rather than handing them in at local shelters.
The vaccine supply issue has also prompted renewed warnings for cat owners to keep their pets indoors if their shots are not up to date.
Geelong Mayor Trent Sullivan said the shortage was causing problems around the country.
“The health and wellbeing of cats in care is of utmost importance and the City is doing its part to support the community based on the advice provided by our shelter partners at Geelong Animal Welfare Society,” Cr Sullivan said.
“While we’ve been told the situation is temporary, there is currently no confirmation of when vaccines supply will increase and so we encourage the community to do their bit to help.”
The annual F3 vaccine protects cats from feline herpes, feline calicivirus and the deadly parvovirus.
The national supply problem is thought to have been caused by a surge in pet ownership at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a drop in production capacity while facilities focussed on the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines.
The City of Greater Geelong is discouraging the surrender of cats until supplies begin to improve. Instead, owners will be provided with food and bedding support.
Free cat registration will be offered for newly adopted cats currently at the Geelong Animal Welfare Society (GAWS), and the subsidised cat desexing program will be extended to minimise litters over the coming months.
The council said it was working with GAWS to “monitor and respond” to the situation as it evolves.
Acting Executive Director Community Service Delivery Alistair Miller said the council needed the community’s help to ease the pressure on the system.
“All cat owners have a role to play by keeping cats safely inside their homes, so as to minimise the risk of contracting or transmitting disease in the community,” Mr Miller said.
“Along with considering making a donation to GAWS, the community can play it’s part by desexing their cat and considering cat adoption to reduce the load on the shelter system.”
The shortage is also playing havoc with Christmas holiday plans, with shelters refusing to accept cats without proof that their vaccine protection is current.