I think we can all agree that the whole world is in a pretty topsy turvy state right now. Covid-19 has really put a spanner in the works, in all aspects of our day to day lives. We’ve had to drastically change the way we interact with one another, and we now see globally the health and economic impacts of this virus.
As we’re beginning our journey towards living a “new normal” we need to continue asking ourselves the big question: “How can I keep myself and the people around me safe?”
For cat owners, our furry feline friends are part of the family, so leaving them out of our considerations is obviously not an option. So, let’s do a little research together into the facts and myths surrounding cats and coronavirus…
Can Your Cat Catch Coronavirus?
The short answer? Yes.
But we can’t just leave it at that. We need to delve in a little further and find out how we can be affected and what to do if our cat does test positive.
Now, when it comes to our cats, we know they can get sick, right? But did you know that cats actually have their own strain of coronavirus that’s completely separate to Covid-19?
It’s called Feline Coronavirus (FCoV) (https://www.vet.cornell.edu/animal-health-diagnostic-center/veterinary-support/disease-information/feline-coronavirus) and it’s actually quite a common disease amongst our furry little ones.
What is important to note is that humans and other animals (such as dogs) can’t catch coronavirus in its feline form. It’s strictly limited to contraction between animals of the feline variety.
Covid-19, however, is a different story entirely. From what we can tell, cats are able to catch Covid-19 from humans and other cats.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 2 cats had been diagnosed with Covid-19 in April 2020 (https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/s0422-covid-19-cats-NYC.html), which prompted a bunch of testing in order to find out how the heck we can limit the spread, if it does end up running rampant through the cat population.
I mean, think of what would happen if our cats started stocking up on toilet paper too? I don’t think we’d be able to cope with such a shortage!
Can You Catch Covid-19 From Your Cat?
It’s yet to be determined whether cats are able to pass this particular strain of coronavirus on to us or to other animals, though studies have shown that they can transfer it between their own species.
A CDC update from June 28, 2020 stated the following points in regards to pets and Covid-19:
These points have been taken directly from the article linked here (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/pets.html).
- Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.
- It appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations.
- Treat pets as you would other human family members – do not let pets interact with people outside the household.
- If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate that person from everyone else, including pets.
So, we’re still not 100% sure of the method of exposure or the communicable factors when it comes to cats and coronavirus, but it’s definitely best to take similar precautions with them and other pets as you would any human being. Keeping them inside and unable to interact with other animals (especially cats) or humans is going to be your best bet at limiting the chances that they will catch Covid-19.
Also, keep your pet cats away from tigers. I mean, that’s probably common sense but due to the fact that they’re within the feline genus, they can catch it too!
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Q&A section states that a tiger has in fact been diagnosed with Covid-19. (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/question-and-answers-hub/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses)! Look, the likelihood of your cat catching Covid-19 from a tiger without it making a meal out of them first is slim to none…but just in case, I thought it would be a good point to mention.
Can Coronavirus Live In A Cat’s Fur?
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) outlined some interesting information in an article they posted back in May, 2020 (https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19/covid-19-humans) that while Covid-19 transmission is possible via contaminated surfaces, there are zero recorded instances in which viruses (Covid-19 or otherwise) have found their way into a human’s system from contact with pet fur or skin.
Fur just seems to be too porous for transmission to occur. Smooth surfaces are what you need to look out for. Basically, if your cat has Covid-19 and they’ve been licking the TV remote (a smooth surface) and you touch it, it’s more likely you’ll catch coronavirus than from simply patting them. Why they’d be licking the TV remote, I have no idea. If your cats are anything like mine though, I wouldn’t put it past them.
What Are The Symptoms Of Covid-19 In Cats?
Cats that have contracted Covid-19 may show signs of a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, breathing difficulties, lethargic tendencies, vomiting, diarrhea and eye discharge.
Keep an eye on your pets and if they are showing any of these symptoms it’s important to follow the steps outlined in the section below.
What Should I Do If My Cat Shows Symptoms Of Coronavirus?
The AVMA released an article (https://www.avma.org/javma-news/2020-07-15/covid-19-infection-confirmed-dog-cats) on their website on June 24, 2020 with the following quote:
“We are still learning about SARS-CoV-2 in animals, but there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus,” the announcement states.
“Based on the limited information available, the risk of animals spreading the virus to people is considered to be low. There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare.”
In other words, if your cat has been tested and confirmed positive for Covid-19, there is no reason for you to surrender or abandon them.
Here’s what to do:
- Isolate them from humans and other pets as best you can.
- Use gloves when handling them and their belongings.
- Do not use any cleaning substance on them that isn’t pet approved.
- Call your vet in advance to advise that your cat is showing signs of coronavirus.
- Arrange a trip to the vet to have them tested.
- If the test comes back positive, simply continue to isolate them and monitor their symptoms, regularly checking in with your vet until they give you the all-clear.
They’re much the same steps you’d take if a human in your home showed signs and tested positive.
Scientists are frantically working on a treatment for Covid-19 and some promising result have been shown in cat-based trials so far, as referenced in this News Medical article in May 2020 (https://www.news-medical.net/news/20200505/Cat-coronavirus-drug-shows-promise-for-treatment-of-COVID-19.aspx).
In all honesty, the chances that your cat will catch Covid-19 are super slim, especially if they are an indoor cat and the people they regularly come into contact with are following the recommended social distancing guidelines. No animal has been recorded to have died from Covid-19 as yet. It seems to be a mild effect that is easy enough for them to recover from, given time and proper care.
So, What Did We Learn About Cats And Coronavirus?
Yes, cats can catch Covid-19 and their own feline strain of coronavirus.
There is currently no evidence that cats can pass Covid-19 on to humans or other animals (that tests have shown at this point in time).
If your cat shows symptoms of Covid-19, react in much the same way you would if a human you live with shows symptoms.
If your cat tests positive for Covid-19, do not panic!
In all likelihood, they just need a trip to the vet, an isolated area to recover in and a bit of time for symptoms to settle down and for the virus to pack its bags and move on out.
Oh, and a single tiger has tested positive for Covid-19.