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Cats and Covid-19

01 August 2020

There have been reports in the press that the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer has confirmed that the virus responsible for COVID-19 has been detected in a pet cat in the UK.

Although this is the first confirmed case of a domestic cat testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK, it should not be cause for alarm as the investigation into the case suggests the infection was spread from humans to animal, not the other way round, and that this is extremely rare with only a handful of cases across the world.  At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans.

As a precaution, to avoid any risks to the cat, people who are suspected of having, or known to have COVID-19 should be particularly careful by minimising contact with their cat and washing their hands with soap and hot water before and after handling.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has issued the following advice for pet owners confirmed or suspected to have Covid-19:

  1. Restrict contact with pets as a precautionary measure.
  2. If your pet requires care, wash your hands before and after any interaction with them and wear a face mask if possible.
  3. Keep cats indoors if possible, and only if they are happy to be indoors. Try to arrange for someone else to exercise dogs, taking care to restrict any contact with the person walking your dog and making sure they practise good hand hygiene. This is to reduce the likelihood of your pet spreading the disease through environmental contamination on their fur – there is no evidence that pet animals can pass Covid-19 to humans.
  4. If your pet shows clinical signs, please do not take it to the vet but call the practice for advice first and alert them to the household’s status.  
  5. If your pet requires essential treatment, call the practice for further advice. Do not take your pet to the surgery unless the vet instructs you to. You may need to arrange for someone else to transport your pet for treatment.

More BVA guidance for pet owners is available at: www.bva.co.uk/coronavirus  

The latest government guidance on how to continue to care for pet animals during the coronavirus pandemic can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-people-with-animals