In such a difficult time, there is a lot of fear and concern regarding pets and their susceptibility to coronavirus disease. This fear is not unfounded, as a study has now found that COVID-19 can be contracted by cats.
Before you panic, please remember that although cats are susceptible to the virus, they are not very susceptible as only three domestic cats have been naturally infected (one located in Belgium and the other two located in the United States). The other cats infected are cats who were experimentally infected with SARS-CoV-2. Also, there is no evidence that shows the virus can be passed from cats to people.
Therefore not only are the naturally occurring cases extremely low, but humans are also unable to get the virus from cats. It is important to know that humans can infect cats with the virus; therefore, if anyone is sick, the cat should be kept away from them as well.
What Are the Effects of COVID-19 on Cats?
Based on the evidence we have, although cats are a bit susceptible to the virus, they do not have a severe reaction the way humans do. It only seems to cause respiratory problems that they recover from in a few weeks. The cat from Belgium did develop GI (Gastrointestinal) and some respiratory problems; however, the cat had made a full recovery in nine days. The cats from the United States of America, specifically New York, both suffered from a bout of respiratory illness; however, they are also expected to recover with no lingering effects.
The cats who were experimentally infected with the virus did not develop signs of COVID-19. Rather they simply had evidence of SARS-CoV-2 in their upper airways.
How Do Cats Contract COVID-19?
Cats have been shown to contract the disease if they are in close contact with people who have the disease. The disease can spread from people to cats, but there is no evidence to show that it can spread from cats to people. Cat-to-cat transmission is also possible.
How to Keep Your Cat Safe from COVID-19
Cats tend to want free roam to wander around the neighborhood. Unfortunately, with COVID-19, this has to be curbed as much as possible. We should treat cats the same way we treat humans when protecting them from the virus. This means they should minimize contact with other cats outside the home and avoid public places.
It is important to note that masks are not for pets, and you should not attempt to get your cat to wear a mask. This can be harmful.
How to Keep My Cat Safe if I Get Sick?
If you contract the virus, try as much as possible to minimize contact with your pet. If you can, let them stay with someone else till you recover. If that is not possible, ensure you reduce contact. Don’t let your cat lick your face or breathe in your face. It would be best if you also washed your hands before giving them food and water.
What to Do if My Cat Gets the Virus?
Cats rarely show symptoms of the virus, and they can heal safely at home. However, if you suspect your cat has gotten the virus, you may take them to a veterinary clinic. It is important that you do not attempt to abandon or rehome your cat in this situation because stress could affect its ability to heal.