Pet shop sold cat with contagious skin disease

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The Conditions in some of the pet shops in Qatar have once again been highlighted by concerned animal-lovers, with the effect on the health of both animals and their owners being called into question following a recent incident involving a kitten.

Nour al-Aidi bought the kitten from a pet shop on Al Merqab street, paying QR1,800 for her new pet. Upon inquiring about the health and vaccination history of the cat, the shop assistant assured her that the kitten was clean and healthy, and told her that he would keep the animal for another day and give her a proper cleaning just to make sure.

When she turned up to collect the cat, al-Aidi noticed that it smelled pleasant enough, but became suspicious upon noticing a white powder coming from the cat onto her clothes. “I don’t even think he washed her, just threw some powder over her to make her smell nice,” she said.

However, this was only the first of a number of horrible discoveries, as she would soon find out that her kitten was in fact fatally ill.
“The kitten already looked sick from the date of purchase and her sickness persisted throughout the 10 days we owned her,” she explained.

“It started out with diarrhoea, then she started showing symptoms of flu as well as a rash and fur loss on her back,” she said, adding “I took her to the vet to see what could be done, but when I picked her up and tried to make her walk she could not get up.” “She started to have uncontrollable seizures, and her eyes were extremely dilated, so I took her back to the vet,” she recounted, “but they told me she was dying there and then, and that there was nothing they could do to save her”.
The vet report, which was shown to Gulf Times, declared that the kitten had diarrhoea, cat flu, ear mites and a dermatophytal infection (ringworm), which are “all infectious diseases we see in kittens who are poorly protected by maternal antibodies (non-vaccinated, infected or badly treated mothers )”.
Ringworm is actually contagious to humans and is transferred through contact, and although it is easily treatable, the report indicated how the maltreatment of animals in pet shops can actually lead to owners being affected by fungal infections.
Al-Aidi was obviously upset following her new pet’s death, and went back to the store she purchased her from to complain. “I went straight to the shop to ask them how they can sell sick animals to the public and not be concerned for the safety of the animals or their owners,” she said, explaining that the response she received was to offer her another cat upon producing a receipt.
“I explained that this was not the issue, but rather I wanted to try and make sure that the animals would be kept in safe and hygienic conditions,” said al-Aidi, who also tried to contact the shop’s owner to no avail. Gulf Times spoke to general practitioner Dr Abdul Rasheed who said that ringworm is a common illness and presents patients with more irritation and discomfort than any serious problems.

“The main complaint for a human will be severe itchiness,” he explained, adding that the infection can cause skin disfiguration as well.
“The disease is also contagious to children, and could definitely be caught if they were playing with an infected animal,” he added.
A member of staff from a local veterinary surgery also confirmed that the infection is very common here, affecting all kinds of animals, whether stray or well looked after.

However, the proximity of animals in pet shops to each other means that ringworm is readily spread throughout, and becomes more of a threat to people who visit pet shops.

Gulf Times has previously reported on the conditions of numerous pet shops in Qatar, but with the lack of animal rights laws in the country it seems that the shops are working within the law, and all visited displayed certificates of authenticity.
“However, the worrying realisation that the poor hygiene of the animals and their surroundings can affect prospective owners may encourage the authorities to take action,” said al-Aidi.