AUSTIN, Texas — Last week, KVUE reported that the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter was closing its cat adoption center and would not be accepting any cats until at least the end of the week due to a viral disease outbreak at the facility.

Now, Austin Pets Alive! (APA!) says it has rescued 71 cats and kittens from the San Marcos shelter.

The rescued cats have been exposed to feline panleukopenia, which is a treatable but serious and potentially fatal illness. APA! said it is converting one of its medical wards to become a Feline ICU for the exposed cats as the Cat Care Team works with the APA! Medical Triage and Wellness Clinic to determine whether or not the cats have the disease and to give them the medical care they need.

APA! said, oftentimes, a shelter facing a disease outbreak like this would immediately euthanize all of the exposed cats and kittens, most of whom are currently healthy, just in case they become sick and spread the disease.

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"Rescuing the lives of animals who would be euthanized elsewhere has always been our mission," Monica Frenden, Director of Feline Lifesaving, said. "When we heard about this outbreak, we knew we had to step up and save these precious lives."

The virus initially started at the San Marcos shelter when a mom and kittens that were taken into the shelter started showing signs of an upper respiratory infection, which "dramatically changed over the course of their stay." As of June 4, 11 cats and 44 kittens had died as a result of the virus, the shelter told KVUE.

"We're thankful to the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter for doing all they could for these cats and allowing us to take them into our care to try and prevent any further deaths," said Dr. Ellen Jefferson, APA!'s executive director.

APA! said the community can help as they care for the rescued cats by fostering the non-exposed cats and kittens at APA! or by donating.

RELATED VIDEO: Cat virus outbreak at San Marcos shelter kills dozens

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