In these difficult times, we have so many questions about coronavirus — how can we protect ourselves? When will we develop a vaccine? When will lockdown end? And for some of us, concerns and questions about coronavirus extend to our pets and their wellbeing.
Since a four-year-old Malayan tiger, Nadia, became infected with coronavirus at the Bronx Zoo in New York in early April, cat owners have begun to ask a lot more questions. Fears have been sparked over whether or not cats can catch and spread the virus. To put your mind at ease, here at Catipilla, we’ve done our research and answered your most pressing questions. Here’s everything you need to know about coronavirus and cats.
Can Cats Get Coronavirus?
Nadia is believed to be the first known and verified case in the world of an animal contracting coronavirus from an (asymptomatic) human and becoming sick. Nadia became infected by a zookeeper and eventually displayed symptoms such as dry cough before being diagnosed with coronavirus by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Iowa.
We can’t stress enough how much of an anomaly this case is. The transmission of COVID-19 from humans to cats is extremely rare and unlikely. In fact, as far as we know, the virus just does not replicate in animal cells in the same way it does in human cells. It may be possible, but owners shouldn’t worry unnecessarily.
If you are particularly concerned, you might want to thoroughly wash your hands with warm water and soap before and after interacting with your cat. If you have been positively tested for coronavirus, you might even want to minimise contact as much as possible.
Can I Catch Coronavirus from My Cat?
As you know, coronavirus is a new virus — investigations are still underway regarding how it is spread and where it came from. What we do know is that human-to-human transmission is the leading cause of transmission and infection, which is why social isolation is so important. According to the World Health Organization, there is currently no real evidence to suggest that animals can transmit coronavirus to humans — to put it another way, animals infected by humans are not playing a significant role in the spread of coronavirus. This was also the case in the 2013 outbreak of SARS — a virus in the same family.
Having said this, it is theoretically possible for a cat’s fur to become contaminated if they come into contact with an infected human — in this way, they might be able to carry the virus from person to person. But we haven’t seen cases of this happen so far. As a precaution, wash your hands with soap and warm water, and if you are a high-risk individual, you might want to consider keeping your cat indoors for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.
What Is Feline Coronavirus (FCoV)?
Since the outbreak of the current pandemic, there has been a lot of discussion around feline coronavirus, or FCoV. To put your mind at ease, feline coronavirus has nothing to do with the current virus. Feline coronavirus does not affect other animals or people and is a common contagious virus found in cat faeces. Feline coronavirus generally causes asymptomatic infection, but it has also been known to cause mild diarrhoea. If your cat has this virus, you don’t need to be concerned about catching COVID-19.
Should My Cat Be an Indoor Cat for the Pandemic?
The answer to this question depends on your health. If you, or someone in your house, is showing signs of coronavirus, the British Veterinary Association recommends you keep your cat indoors. You should also avoid close contact with your cat, given that other members of your household might interact with them. Forgo the cuddles and strokes for now and get your fill when you feel better.
You might also want to consider keeping your cat indoors if you are particularly vulnerable to negate the slim chance that your cat could bring the virus into your home.
If, on the other hand, you are in good health, you aren’t at risk and you aren’t showing symptoms, there’s no reason to keep your furry friend indoors.
How to Cater For an Indoor Cat During Coronavirus
So if you’re keeping your cat indoors for the moment, how can you keep them entertained? How can you make sure they are getting enough exercise? If your cat is used to going outside and running around for hours each day, hunting and playing to their hearts’ content, being confined could get frustrating or stressful. After all, they don’t understand what’s going on and you can’t reason with them.
There are ways to keep your cat active while catering to their mental wellbeing.:
- Give your cat a resting point, where they can get up high, relax and survey their kingdom. This will allow your cat to get some alone time.
- Buy a few cat toys to keep them engaged. Try catnip-infused toys on strings so you can interact with your cat and allow them to expel some energy.
- Make sure your cat has a scratching post or two — they will need to file down their claws and won’t have access to cat trees.
- Use synthetic pheromones to keep your cat calm.
- Buy cat toys that act as puzzles — when your cat swats the toy in the right way, they are rewarded with a treat. This is a great way to keep them mentally stimulated. After all, if you can’t spoil your cat now, when can you?