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Coronavirus and Felines: What Cat Owners Need to Know…

Posted by Andrea on 11th Apr 2020

Can you catch COVID-19 from your cat? How should pet owners prepare for social-distancing? What about that tiger that got Coronavirus?

Many of us are hunkering down with our cats. You might be working from home, self-isolating, or even ill with COVID-19. What precautions should you take with your kitty? And how does the tiger that got coronavirus figure in?

“At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19.” This is the word from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. “There is a coronavirus that is specific to cats, but is not contagious to humans. There is no cause for alarm in cats.”

With regard to the tiger in the Bronx Zoo: Though the virus affected 2 tigers and 3 lions, please keep in mind that other cat species there such as leopards, cheetas and pumas, were unaffected, even though they were in close proximity to the tigers and lions. We are assured further that domestic cats are not closely as related to these wild cats as we might think. Further, the CDC has not received any reports of pet animals sick with COVID-19.

The CDC does advise that if you are confirmed as ill, you should practice social distancing by limiting your interaction with your pets, just as you would with people in your home. If you are symptomatic, the CDC says to “avoid direct contact with pets, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.” Best to have someone care for your pet while you are ill if at all possible. When you test positive for the virus, your local health department will be notified. Let them know you have a cat and ask for their advice should your cat need veterinary care.

If you are self-quarantined or sick, the CDC advises wearing gloves and a mask before handling your cat. “Because if you sneeze or cough on your cat and someone else touches her, that person could potentially get the virus from petting your cat.” Though this has not happened, they do recommend an abundance of caution.

If you’re not sick, you need to practice normal good pet hygiene. To protect yourself from germs, wash your hands after handling animals, their food, waste, or supplies. Since necessities are sometimes unavailable of late, make sure you don’t run out and keep a two-week supply of food, medications, and litter on hand. If your cat goes outdoors, this may be a good time to keep them inside as the virus can actually live on their fur coats.

Finally, we need to understand that our knowledge of this virus is still evolving. The more we learn about how it is transmitted in humans and in animals, the more we will understand how best to mitigate and prevent its further spread.

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