We’re all worried about the newest coronavirus outbreak. And rightfully so! It is not just a common cold and some people are at high risk of dying from it. But as pet owners, should we be worried about coronavirus in cats? We know similar infectious diseases have links to animals, but what about our precious kittens? Is there anything we should be doing to keep our feline friends safe?
Companion Animals and Coronavirus: Important Information
First things first, let’s talk about what the new coronavirus disease is. Notice how we used “new” there? That’s because this infectious disease (aka COVID-19) is not one-of-a-kind. There are dozens of strains of coronavirus out there. Remember the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003? A strain of coronavirus was responsible for that, too.
So why are we taking the COVID-19 outbreak so seriously? Well, that’s because it’s a disease we don’t know well, and it’s much worse than the common cold. There is no vaccine or medication effective in treating it. The World Health Organization (WHO) says it originated in China in late 2019.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced COVID-19 is spread through droplets. That means particles we expel when we sneeze and cough. If someone comes in contact with those droplets and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth, they could get sick. They will then show flu-like symptoms if they get infected. Not everyone gets very sick from the new coronavirus (ie they are asymptomatic). Many people only show mild clinical symptoms.
So where does that leave our feline and canine companions? Should we be worried about coronavirus in cats? Most likely, not. There is no evidence that pet cats can carry this infectious disease. Therefore, you shouldn’t panic and abandon your feline friend. Unfortunately, some people have done this already.
Coronavirus in Cats: Can They Get It?
Looking at the vast array of evidence scientists have, the WHO says cats cannot get COVID-19. There is more research to be done, but pet-to-human transmission (or vice-versa) is highly unlikely.
That said, we do know that some of one strain of coronavirus in cats. It’s not COVID-19 or any other we, humans, can get. It’s called feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). It can affect all cats—sick cats, healthy cats, and young kittens. But it has nothing to do with the pandemic we’re living through now!
Feline coronavirus disease only appears in pet cats. In most cases, the animal can fight off the infection. Only a minority of pets get very sick and, as a result, pass away because of the viral disease.
Feline Coronavirus and Fake News
It’s not just the COVID-19 that spreads like crazy. Fake news does too. They spread like a viral infection and cause unfounded panic. Thanks to fake news, some people have abandoned their pets.
Don’t believe the stories about coronavirus in cats circulating on WhatsApp and Facebook. They are not grounded on scientific evidence. Just because feline infectious peritonitis is caused by a coronavirus, it doesn’t mean this is tied to COVID-19. Cats with FIP do not have COVID-19. They also can’t transmit FIP disease to humans.
Don’t let yourself get “infected” by the mass-hysteria. Listen to respectable and trustworthy news sources and organizations. Spreading panic and fear won’t help us at all—it might put us at more of a risk.
What About Coronavirus in Dogs?
There was one reported case of coronavirus in dogs in Hong Kong, according to WHO. However, the circumstances around it are very mysterious. This one case isn’t enough to confirm that dogs and cats can get COVID-19. They most likely cannot get this infectious disease (or pass it to humans).
Caring for Companion Animals During These Times
Now that we’re living through this pandemic, we need to keep ourselves safe. Coronavirus in cats and dogs isn’t real. Despite that, we still need to care for our pets. Our duties as pet owners don’t stop because there is a deadly virus going around!
Stock Up on Pet Essentials
You’ve probably seen the lines and empty shelves at the supermarket. Unfortunately, some people are hoarding food and other essentials in crazy amounts. That goes for disinfectant wipes, pure alcohol, masks, gloves, toilet paper, and also for pet essentials.
The next time you go to the grocery store, get some staples for your pet. Stock up on food and cat litter. Have enough at home to last you two to four weeks. That way, you can hold your ground if you need to self-quarantine.
Has your veterinarian prescribed Mittens any feline medication? For instance, if your cat has a heart condition and needs meds to stay healthy. If so, try to get a few extra boxes. That is if you can!
Play with Them!
Self-quarantining and social isolating can get old pretty fast. For you and for Mittens. Most cats love having the house for themselves to relax and do…cat stuff! Having people (especially children) running around all day will get frustrating for them.
Offset this by playing with your kittens. You don’t need any fancy toys. Make a ball of newspaper. Let them play with an old ball of yarn. Give them a cardboard box to play with. The fun doesn’t have to stop just because of this viral hiccup!
8 Ways to Flatten the Curve
You’ve heard of the expression “flatten the curve,” right? It’s all about coming up with a strategy to keep people safe from this infection. There are a few ways we can slow down the spread of the virus. Thus, we can reduce the number of people infected and, most importantly, save lives!
- Wash your hands thoroughly and often for 20 seconds
- Sneeze and cough into a tissue or your elbow
- Avoid contact with people who are infected
- Don’t travel, unless you absolutely need to
- Stay away from crowds
- Whenever possible, practice social distancing
- Don’t believe (or share!) everything you read on social media
- Don’t hoard food and other staples you don’t need—others will need them too!
See how none of those tips are “stay away from your pets”? We’ve said it countless times but we’ll say it again: coronavirus in cats and dogs is not real! Feline coronavirus infection exists, but it has nothing to do with COVID-19. You should always keep an eye out for FIP in cats—not just during this viral outbreak.