A FRANKLEY animal hospital is urging pet owners to vaccinate their cats, after witnessing a rise in cases of a fatal feline virus last year.

The RSPCA's Newbrook Animal Hospital treated 40 cats suffering from feline panleukopenia - a contagious virus most often fatal to cats and kittens.

Joanna Szkutnicki, senior clinician at Newbrook Animal Hospital, said: "Feline panleukopenia is a severe disease that most often proves fatal.

"Most cats contract it from a contaminated environment via infected faeces rather than from direct contact with other infected cats.

"The virus is very resilient and can survive in the environment for up to a year."

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, flu-like symptoms, lethargy and sudden collapse.

Ms Szkutnicki added: "We would like to remind people to ensure that their cats are vaccinated as this is the main method of protection.

"Primary vaccination courses start at approximately eight weeks of age, with a second injection three to four weeks later.

"It is also important that your cat’s annual booster is kept up to date - a lapse in vaccination could put your cat at risk.

“While kittens are more susceptible to the virus, it often affects adult cats as well."

Owners whose cat shows any of the listed symptoms are urged to contact a vet immediately.

Visit rspca.org.uk for more information.