LAKEVIEW — A cat cafe and adoption center in Lakeview has closed temporarily after one of its cats became ill with a highly contagious disease.
The Catcade, 1235 W. Belmont Ave., closed Saturday after cats were possibly exposed to panleukopenia, a sometimes fatal disease that can affect cats and dogs, according to an Instagram post from the nonprofit and its co-owner Shelly Casey.
“This is a heartbreaking decision but this is an absolute worst-case scenario,” Casey and co-owner Chris Gutierrez posted on Instagram.
The couple, who opened The Catcade in 2017, went on Instagram Live Sunday to explain more about the exposure. The affected cat got sick a week after being rescued from the center.
Shelters are at high risk for exposure to panleukopenia, Casey said.
“It’s really sad, but this is not foreign or strange to us as rescue workers,” Casey said. “We are only shutting down out of sheer caution because we don’t want to spread anything and we hope to contain it if the cats here are positive.”
So far, all 20 of the cats in The Catcade lounge seem to be “perfectly healthy,” Casey said.
The owners didn’t respond to requests for further comment.
All cats in the Catcade’s care are having their temperatures monitored daily, Casey said. Staff have soaked and sanitized everything in the Catcade with disinfectant.
“We also had everything steam cleaned,” Casey said. “We have a steamer and steamed all of our games, the floor — anything that could have it.”
Gutierrez said the owners have also thrown away hundreds of dollars of items — like vacuums, air purifiers, toys and litter boxes — out of an abundance of caution.
“If it’s not glued down and didn’t cost a fortune, we gave it a viking funeral and said goodbye to it,” Gutierrez said.
People can support the Catcade’s recovery by donating online.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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