The New Philadelphia Health Department is trying to track down the owner of this cat that was spotted in the area of Second Drive NE. The cat is believed to have had contact with a rabies-positive bat. (Submitted)

New Philadelphia, Ohio - City health department officials are sharing a photo of a cat who had an encounter with a rabid recently in hopes of tracking down its owner.

Environmental Health Director Lee Finley says they spotted the feline yesterday when they were out talking to homeowners in the area of Second Drive NE where the rabies-positive bat was collected. He says it’s not the calico that they were originally searching for. (but a grayish long-haired cat that hangs out in the same neighborhood) 

"We had actually got yesterday a picture of the calico that was in the area. We went and got that from the individual who let us know that, yeah, it was his cat," he says. "We took it over to the person who saw the initial encounter between the cat and the bat and she said, ‘No, that’s not the animal.’ That’s when it came out that the cat was more gray. It had long hair and everything else."

Finley says they went back to talk to the owner of the calico to let him know that his cat was not the one involved in the incident when another cat crossed their path. 

"As we were leaving, this cat crossed the street in front of us so we got a picture of it real quick, and ran it over as quick as we could to the lady and she goes, ‘Yes, that’s it. That’s the cat,'" he says. 

Finley says the cat was already gone by the time they got back, so they’re going back out today to try to make contact with the owner.

"We’re going to be going back in just a little bit or whatever to look more in that area, and I know a couple houses where we saw that the cat was, so we’re pretty close to where hopefully we have where it’s at," he says.

Finley says the rabies virus typically takes a long time to incubate so there’s no immediate danger, but he says they need to find the feline’s owner so they can get the animal into quarantine.

"State law requires any animal that’s exposed to a rabid animal, like this cat, has to be under a six-month quarantine because it can take up to six months for the animal to fully develop rabies that it could give it something else," he says.

Finley says they’re urging people to take a look at the photo and give them a call if they know who the cat belongs to. They can be reached at  330-364-4491 extension 1208 on weekdays between 8 am and 4:30 pm. Finley says people should call the New Philadelphia Police Department outside of those hours. 


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