The whole world has been talking about COVID-19 in recent weeks.
Both the print and electronic media have continued to dole out news, reports, and updates about this novel virus.
If you are a cat parent, you are most likely curious about how this turn of events will affect your kitty. Now, let’s get to it!
Cats cannot be infected with COVID-19
Scientists and researchers, so far, have not been able to confirm cats to be susceptible to the Coronavirus or COVID-19 viral infection. However, we are enjoined to adhere to every necessary precaution alongside your cat, including social distancing, regular hand washing, and staying indoors as much as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions about Cats and Coronavirus
What is Coronavirus or COVID-19 virus?
According to the World Organization for Animal Health, COVID-19 is just a member of the Coronaviruses (CoV) family, i.e., “a family of RNA (ribonucleic acid) viruses. They are called coronaviruses because the virus particle exhibits a characteristic ‘corona’ (crown) of spike proteins around its lipid envelope.”
Origin of COVID-19
A lot has been said about the origin of COVID-19. However, the OIE reports that the virus has an animal source. “Ongoing investigations are important for identifying the animal source (including species involved) and establishing the potential role of an animal reservoir in this disease. Yet, to date, there is not enough scientific evidence to identify that source or to explain the route of transmission from an animal source to humans.”
The earliest research evidence from the study of COVID-19 shows that the genetic sequence data of COVID-19 is “a close relative of other CoV found circulating in Rhinolophus bat (Horseshoe Bat) populations.”
Despite the earliest cases being about a human subject infected by an animal host, we now have more human-to-human spread cases of the COVID-19. Considering the current trends, it is understandable why cat parents are worried about the health of their cats. While research is still ongoing, there is no concise evidence, at the moment, that animals are involved in the spread.
According to the OIE, “there is no evidence that dogs [or cats] play a role in the spread of this human disease or that they become sick. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by the COVID-19 virus.”
Can the COVID-19 infect cats?
Again, we do not currently have a specific answer to this question. However, the “weak-positive” Pomeranian case in Hong Kong suggests that this could happen. The Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department reported that experts are unanimous on the fact that the Pomeranian had “a low-level of infection and it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission.”
While the elderly dog tested positive, it was asymptomatic and was discharged after being quarantined for 14 days. The 17-year old dog eventually passed away, with the animal welfare experts suggested that its death was a result of the quarantine stress and the probable sadness of being away from its owner.
Based on the reports from the U.S. Center for Disease Control, there is no report of pets or similar animals getting infected with COVID-19. There are talks about the dog being just a passive carrier -a living creature capable of spreading the disease across human without getting infected.
However, the WHO is resolute on its stance that despite this case of an infected Hong Kong dog, “there is no evidence that a dog, cat, or any pet can transmit COVID-19. COVID-19 is mainly spread through droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks.”
What this means is that, while your cat cannot be infected, they can transmit the infection from an infected human or animal to you. So, the COVID-19 or SARS-Cov-2, as it is called scientifically, can pass from your pet to you.
Can your cat spread the COVID-19 virus to you?
If we are going by the reports of the CDC, “there is zero evidence that companion animals and pets can spread COVID-19. However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it is always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals.”
This new stance contradicts the earlier reports of animals starting in an animal host, the initial leap to humans means it has stayed within humans. The OIE reported that “detailed investigations have demonstrated that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civets to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans.”
We will get to know more about the COVID-19 as time goes on, especially on how it affects cats.
Should you keep a distance from your cat if you tested positive to COVID-19?
Although we do not have clear evidence on cats getting infected with the COVID-19, you should stay away from your cats and other pets if you are sick with COVID-19. According to the CDC, symptomatic individuals “should maintain separation from pets as they would with other household members, and avoid direct contact with pets, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.”
Furthermore, the CDC also says that “although there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.”
Keep your furry babies away from you during your isolation or quarantine. If you have to interact with them, do so with gloves and masks on.
What are the necessary supplies for your cat in such situations?
Your furry pals deserve some supplies, too, including sufficient food and litter that can last for four weeks. Do not forget to keep their medications that could last for up to a month. You will also need updated vet records and identification tags, and possibly a cat carrier.
Do these even before you are diagnosed with COVID-19.
Will bathing my cat help to avoid the COVID-19?
The National Institutes of Health reported that “the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces. Therefore, regularly bathing your cat may protect both you and your kitty. If you do not find it easy to bathe your cat, avoid visitors in your home.
Are vet visits recommended?
It is best to avoid vet visits for now. Reschedule your workups and vaccination appointment until the COVID-19 scare is over. Remember, staying at home reduces the risk of being infected by the COVID-19. In the case of an emergency, reach out to your vet immediately, and adhere to their directives.
What should I do if my cat is showing COVID-19 symptoms?
The first thing to do in this case is to contact your vet. Based on the reports from the American Veterinary Medicine Association, the COVID-19 clinical testing have not been adopted to work for animals in the United States. However, work is still ongoing to put this in place.
While there is sufficient evidence to suggest that cats are immune to COVID-19 symptoms, it is reasonable to get worried when our furry friends get sick. So, if this is the case, stay calm and speak to your vet.
Keeping your cat safe during home disinfection
You may want to do some disinfecting and deep cleaning. While this is expected, it is crucial to ensure that your cat is not exposed to harmful chemicals. Wash food and water bowls thoroughly. Disinfect your furniture and convenience items. Lastly, keep chemicals out of the reach of your cats.
In the case of an emergency arising from chemical poisoning, reach out to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control on (888) 426-4435.
You and your cat can get through these trying times in one piece
Yes, we will be spending more time indoors with our kitties; it does not have to be in fear and worry. Instead, keep it fun and do a lot of good stuff together. Do not abandon your cat in any situation – nothing is as soothing to them as your company.
Follow quarantine instructions and the government’s directives. We will all get through this if we stay together.