Fair responds to social media post about cats at fair


The Jackson County Fair responded to social media criticism that the health of kittens featured in an exhibits was being neglected.

It’s unclear where the post originated, but one from a A Critter’s Chance, a Plainfield-based animal rescue organization, showed a photograph of a kitten with runny eyes at the Young MacDonald’s Farm building operated by the county’s FFA chapters.

It had circulated on social media since it was shared Tuesday. The fair office has since received numerous phone calls on the topic from those who are concerned.

[sc:text-divider text-divider-title=”Story continues below gallery” ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

Linda Myers, a fair board member and adviser of Crothersville FFA, said the kitten that was photographed had been treated for a common condition for cats and that it had improved. She said eye drops were purchased at a local veterinary office and applied to all cats.

"We treated all the cats in the building in case it would be contagious," she said.

Myers said the FFA building serves as an educational exhibit for those who do not get to see farm animals regularly. Posters throughout the building educate fairgoers about farms, animals, crops and more.

She said animal welfare is a priority for the exhibit each year. All animals come from local farms, and farmers treat their animals with veterinarian visits.

The kittens, however, are too young to vaccinate or spay and neuter, Myers said. The kittens do receive a worming medicine when they come to the fair.

The kittens, as with other animals, are evaluated when they arrive at the building, and if there is an issue, it’s addressed, Myers said.

When a cat has an issue, the fair contacts a local veterinarian to get eye drops to treat the condition.

"We first clean them with a paper towel and put the drops in and treat them as recommended," Myers said. "If we see one of them has the potential for an eye problem or anything else, then we’ll treat it to the best of our ability. If at that time we think it’s too much for us to handle, we consult a local veterinarian."

The post shared by Facebook users also made allegations that the cats didn’t have food or water, were confined in an unusually small space and that one had an upper respiratory infection. A Critter’s Chance did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Myers said a medically trained representative examined the kitten for a respiratory infection and the kitten’s lungs were free of fluid.

The cats are given food and water as well as a litter pan. The pin where they provides them enough space to move freely, play and socialize with fairgoers as they make their way through the barn.

Kittens are not handled by visitors until they’re adopted Saturday.

Myers said the kittens are adopted by families at 10 a.m. that day. The exhibit is opened to first 10 people who receive a cat. She said there’s always a line, and those who do not receive a cat are encouraged to visit other agencies where they can adopt a pet.

"We tell them, ‘They need your assistance,’" she said. "We also recommend to wait for the appropriate age for them to be spayed and neutered and receive other vaccinations."

Myers said she hopes the building serves as an educational place for the public while at the fair and that she is proud of the students who help operate it.

"We would love for people to come visit our building. We’re proud of our building and the awesome FFA members who volunteer here," she said. "This is a great opportunity for them to teach every generation that comes through here."