Thursday, September 5, 2002

Rabid animal attacks cats in Cape

Published in the Current

Cape Elizabeth police are warning residents to keep an eye on their pet cats, in the wake of three recent encounters between cats and rabid animals. Two of the incidents involved raccoons and the third was with a skunk, according to Animal Control Officer Bob Leeman.

The most recent encounter, on the night of Sept. 4, was on Ocean House Road between Mitchell Road and Spurwink Avenue. The cat in that encounter was put down because its rabies shots were not up-to-date, and because there were children and other pets in the home.

“I know I’ve got cats out there that aren’t up to date on shots,” Leeman said. “That’s scary. ”

He said cat owners who discover unexplained injuries on their animals should have them taken to the veterinarian for an examination. He said cats might not even show signs of a fight or animal bite, but could bring rabies into the house unnoticed. If humans are exposed to the virus and do not receive rapid treatment, the disease is fatal.

If an animal is suspected of having encountered a rabid animal, Leeman said, the vet will administer a rabies booster shot and the animal will be quarantined for 45 days to be sure it is rabies-free. Leeman said most quarantined animals are kept in their homes under closer supervision than normal.

Rabid animals wander around town, Leeman said, meaning there is no way to specify that one area of town is riskier than others. “It’s everywhere out here,” he said.

Another encounter was between a black cat and a raccoon in the Brentwood area. Both the raccoon and the cat ran off before being captured, Leeman said, so he is not sure what happened to the animals. He did contact residents in the area whom he knew had black cats, but failed to find the animal.

“It worries me because there are so many cats in town,” Leeman said.