COVID-19 and Cats
As I type this post COVID-19 cases are being reported more widely outside China. The new-ness of COVID-19 means that information is both patchy and is changing all the time as medical knowledge increases. Should we be worried for our feline friends? I scanned the internet for the latest advice (as at 28/02/2020) in an attempt to answer the following questions:
1. Can cats be infected by COVID-19?
2. Is human to cat transfer of COVID-19 possible?
3. Is cat to human transfer of COVID-19 possible?
4. What extra advice is there for cat owners to allow them to maximise both their own welfare and that of their cats?
Lets dive straight in to the available advice. I've summarised information here, but provided a link to the source websites so you can read more fully about the source organisation and their recommendations:
Can My Cat Become Infected with COVID-19?
The advice I found answers Questions 1-3, quite succinctly. This advice comes from the UK NHS website:
- There is currently no evidence that companion animals or pets can be infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus.
- But it's always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with pets.
- This can help protect you against common infections that can pass between pets and humans.
It follows from this answer that by observing good personal hygiene practices, we should be able to continue to interact with our feline friends as normal. Whilst surfing I also came across the European Centre for Disease Control Q&A on COVID-19. This Q&A is also worth a read through as, like the NHS site, it presents information in a "non-sensational" practical way.
Can we Trust these Sources?
The NHS and ECDC are about as authoritative bodies as you can get on public health matters, so the advice given will certainly reflect latest thinking by Western Governments.
However, yesterday evening (27th February) it was reported that a Pomeranian dog in Hong Kong was displaying weak symptoms of COVID-19 that it was believed to have caught from its owner. Health professionals are monitoring the dog while it recovers. This report illustrates two things:
1. That the situation is evolving and that advice may change (so please continue to monitor the NHS and ECDC websites for further information.
2. That the picture is never going to be 100% clear.
All robustly tested and reviewed evidence so far suggests that COVID-19 does not infect our domestic pets. We should pay attention to any reports to the contrary and monitor the authoritative websites for updates on advice regarding our pets. In the meantime, the advice is clear:
Enjoy interacting with your pets as you normally would whilst paying particularly close attention to your personal hygiene routines.
The Cat Gallery is a specialist UK store for cat lovers and their feline friends. We wrote this post because we wanted to check the situation with our own cats Alfie & Charlie, and thought that our findings would be worth sharing.