There is no denying that COVID-19 has disrupted life as we know it, and we are all still trying to adapt to the new normal. But what about our pets? And more so our cats that don’t quite understand the concept of social distancing or self-isolation?
Needless to say, we are getting loads of questions from pet owners with regards to their cats, especially with reports about a small number of animals testing positive for coronavirus in the USA. But, according to the PDSA, there are no known cases of animals with the virus here in the UK. This is good news for the almost 11 million cat owners, and although there is no need to panic, it is still worth knowing as much as you can about COVID-19 to keep both you, and your cat, safe.
Carry on reading to find out, amongst other things, what is COVID-19, the symptoms, recovery time, and of course, how pet owners can care for their cats during this stressful time.
What is COVID-19?
While there are all kinds of speculation about the origins of Covid-19, including that it was manufactured in a laboratory, the truth is there have already been two outbreaks of the virus in the last 20 years. COVID-19, like SARS and MERS, is thought to be transferred from animals to people, although the exact origin of the newest strain is still being investigated.
What Are the Main Coronavirus Symptoms?
People infected with the coronavirus have all displayed similar symptoms, including a dry, continuous cough, shortness of breath as well as a high temperature. Other signs a person may be infected are:
- Muscle pain
- Fever or chills
- Sore throat
- Shaking accompanied by chills
- Loss of taste or smell
How Severe is the Coronavirus Disease?
There are five possible groups for people that have tested positive with the virus.
- Asymptomatic (with a person showing no symptoms)
For those with mild to moderate signs, no special care is needed, and the recovery rate is good. Unfortunately, the virus can develop into a serious, even fatal, illness for high-risk groups, including the elderly, people with existing underlying health issues and pregnant women.
What is the Recovery Time for the Coronavirus Disease?
According to the World Health Organization, the recovery time is approximately two weeks for mild cases. However, for the more critical cases, it can take up to six weeks. For your own safety, and those around you, it is essential that you adhere to specific guidelines once you have had COVID-19.
Can I Transmit COVID-19 To My Cat?
Understandably one of the main concerns for pet owners during this pandemic is no need for you to worry.
However, it is better to err on the side of caution, which is why you should wash your hands before and after you have handled your cat, and if you have had, or are whether or not they can transfer the virus to their cats. As it currently stands, the infection rate of cats, and other pets, is very low, which suggests the chances of you transmitting COVID-19 is rare. Even if you are in close contact with your cat, there is currently infected, it is a good idea to minimise contact.
How Can I Protect My Cat From COVID-19?
Of course, the best way to protect your pets from COVID-19 is prevention. The following tips will keep you and your animals safe from the illness.
Practice good personal hygiene
Never has personal hygiene been more critical. Make sure you wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soap or disinfectant.
Keep your distance
Should you need to go out, you must keep at least a 2-metre distance from others.
Don’t touch your eyes, face or mouth
Although this seems almost impossible to do, you should avoid touching your eyes, face or mouth as this how the virus spreads.
Don’t use antiseptic wipes on your cat
As tempting as it might be, we strongly advise that you don’t use antibacterial wipes to clean your pet. These are dangerous for your cat. Should your cat have any fomites on its coat, these will be removed when your cat grooms itself.
What Should I Do With My Cat If I Am Infected?
If you are showing any symptoms, it is best to get tested as a matter of urgency. Should you test positive, you can then take the necessary precautions to keep your family and pets safe. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise that you limit contact with your companion animals in the same way you would do with people.
Is it Safe For My Cat to go Outside?
One of the more common questions we are receiving is whether it is safe for your cat to go outside during the COVID-19 lockdown. Experts suggest that it is entirely safe for your animal to go about its regular routine to keep them stress-free and healthy. However, should you be self-isolating because you are showing symptoms of the virus, currently have it, or are recovering, it is recommended to keep your cat indoors.
Is There a Vaccine to Protect Cats From COVID-19?
Unfortunately, at the moment there is no vaccine to protect cats, or humans, from COVID-19. There is a vaccine that can be administered to puppies to protect them from a strain of the illness that causes diarrhoea, but it doesn’t have any effect on other strains.
How Can I Care for My Cat Cat During the Lockdown?
Cats need to stay active, especially if they are used to being outdoors. If you are self-isolating and limiting your cat’s outside time, there are a few things you can do to keep it stimulated, physically and mentally.
Take a look at some of our suggestions to keep your cat healthy during the lockdown.
Get your cat a hammock
Cats love places to perch at the best of times but will appreciate a spot to call their own even more while stuck indoors. A wall-mounted hammock is a perfect place to get away from it all, or indulge in a much-needed catnap.
Play hide and seek
Your cat’s natural instinct is to hide from potential prey or pounce on unsuspecting passers-by. Keep your pet active with a collapsible tunnel which can be stored neatly out the way, when not in use.
Invest in a scratching post
Now is a good time to invest in a scratching post for your pet. They are a great stress reliever and help cats get rid of pent up energy.
Hopefully, we have answered your COVID-19 related questions in this article. Although these are unusual times, it is good to know that there are things you can do to keep yourself and your pets healthy. Take care and stay safe.