Vet’s assurance to cat owners over pandemic confusion

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“It has been reported that a small number of cats have been tested positive for COVID-19.

“However, these statements are based on a very small number of experimental studies where cats were artificially infected with COVID-19 and, reassuringly, none of these cats were found to shed the virus or develop symptoms.

“The World Health Organisation states ‘that there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the disease’. Additionally, there have been no reports of cats becoming unwell in the same way as humans.

“We know that human-to-human spread of COVID-19 is occurring due to direct contact with an infected person or surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus.

“Fortunately, coronavirus is a fragile virus which means it can easily be killed by soap, alcohol gels and disinfectants, hence why the government advice is frequent hand washing and staying at home.

“Could cats transmit COVID-19 on their fur? Although theoretically possible, this is highly unlikely because the virus does not survive well on fur.

“However, a sensible precaution would be hand washing before and after petting your cat.

“The current advice is that if you have tested positive or are showing symptoms of COVID-19, you should avoid close contact with your cat and consider that another member of your household provides the day-to-day care for your cat if at all possible.

“Don’t worry if that is not possible, just ensure you thoroughly wash your hands before and after contact with your pet.

“Many people will ask should they keep their cats indoors during this time.

“It is very important to point out that keeping cats indoors that are used to having outdoor access could be very stressful and actually increase the risk of them developing other more concerning conditions such as bladder issues and behavioural issues.

“Therefore, only keep your cat indoors if you are self-isolating and your cat is amenable to the change in lifestyle, or if your cat usually spends most of the time indoors.

“Rest assured, veterinary professionals around the country are working day and night to continue providing the highest levels of care to your pets in emergency and urgent situations.

“Where you may have non-urgent queries or concerns, many practices are now offering telemedicine consultations should you still need to talk with your vet.

“It is worth mentioning that pet ownership actually is great for our physical and mental wellbeing, so enjoy the company of your feline friends as the enjoyment they bring to our lives far outweighs any likely dangers or fears!”

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