Understandably, there is a lot of concern surrounding the COVID-19 and of course, we the cat owners are keen to know how to protect felines.
First, you will be pleased to know that the number of cats catching COVID-19 is very rare. The first cat that in the UK (in Weybridge on 22 July 2020) to have contracted the coronavirus had mild symptoms and recovered very quickly.
Although a worrying prospect, the findings surrounding the case showed that the owner had already tested positive for COVID-19, and the likelihood of the virus being transferred to other animals and humans was minimal.
The above case was one of the few in which a cat has contracted COVID-19, and to date, there is little evidence that animals can catch coronavirus and spread it to pet owners and others in the household. However, pet owners will be worried and keen to know what to do should symptoms arise in their cat.
Visiting a Veterinary Practice
When our pet is unwell, the first port of call will often be a visit to the veterinarian. Unless it's an emergency, it is a good idea to contact the vet via telephone or email to enquire about an appointment, as many may be able to carry out a virtual consultation first. If you visited the vet with your pet, ensure that you wash the cat carrier afterwards.
What to do if you have diagnosed with COVID-19 ?
First, don't panic and don't abandon your pet. Sadly, cats are far more likely to be abandoned than dogs according to Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (Telegraph). We can only guess that one of the reasons is the lack of knowledge as to how to deal with the unknown... I hope that the tips below will help you to clear some air and make you and your feline friend less stressed.
Should you let my cat out?
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you may be wondering if your cat can still go outside. There is currently no evidence that cats can transmit COVID-19 to humans. However, as we know, the virus can survive on surfaces such as door handles, and it is possible that it can be on cat's fur. Given the lack of information regarding pets and COVID-19, we would suggest limiting your cat's outdoor exploration and limiting direct contact with them.
Can I play with my cat?
Of course, this can be difficult and upsetting, but it is essential to safeguard both you and your pet cat. If you have a playtime scheduled with your cat, then why not consider some alternative that still allows you to maintain a distance, such as playthings affixed to a stick or getting an electronic toy, or a laser pointer.
How should I feed my cat?
First, make sure that the bowls are thoroughly washed and especially plastic bows as they are porous and thus can trap not just the virus but other nasties (if your cat ever had black 'spots' on its chin this is generally caused by dirt). Self-feeding pet bowls can be another great way of keeping distance while still ensuring a cat is getting the nourishment they need.
Although many cat owners will already know how important it is to maintain a clean household, it is a point worth reinforcing.
1. Wash the surfaces with a pet-safe disinfectant 2. Wash your hands with soap and water before handling your cat. 3. Wipe your pet with a clean damp cloth before you let your cat out for a walk. 4. If you are ill, avoid sharing your food.
Overall: Final Thought Regarding Cats and COVID-19
The chance of cats catching COVID-19 is less likely than humans contracting the disease. Still, acceptable hygiene practices and being proactive in the welfare of our cats can ensure that the likelihood is reduced further.
Although there is a lack of information regarding cats and COVID-19 does not mean there isn't potential risk, so it is advisable to remain cautious until more verified information is released to the public.