Knoxville animal's shelter will be shut down the next couple of days because of an illness affecting cats.

Young-Williams Animal Center's Division Street location will be closed Friday and Saturday so that staff members can thoroughly clean and disinfect the cat areas. The Young-Williams Animal Village at 6400 Kingston Pike will remain open.

A cat that was surrendered by its owner at the shelter had the panleukopenia virus, which is similar to parvovirus in dogs. Symptoms include diarrhea, lethargy and vomiting, and the virus is almost always fatal.

So far, twelve cats who were infected have been euthanized, and workers are evaluating all of the other cats who may have been infected. The good news, if the cats were vaccinated, they should not get sick and will not have to be euthanized.

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"We are an open intake shelter that takes in approximately 14,000 animals each year," said Jeff Ashin, CEO of Young-Williams Animal Center. "Our intake numbers increase in the summer, and we can be more susceptible to exposure to diseases as the shelter becomes overcrowded. The most effective and humane way to prevent the pet overpopulation is to spay and neuter your animals."

All the of the shelter workers will be busy the next few days cleaning the shelter.

In addition, space is limited while the work is underway, so Young-Williams hopes that people hoping to surrender a pet will wait until Sunday. Better yet, they have resources and information to help struggling pet owners keep their animals.

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