Cat Coronavirus

Coronaviruses: There is hardly any other topic that concerns us at the moment. But why is the vet suddenly talking about coronaviruses in cats too? Is this the same virus as we humans? All important information about coronaviruses and cats can be found in the following article.

Is Covid-19 Dangerous for My Cat?

Coronaviruses not only occur with us animal owners but also with our furry four-legged friends. In contrast to the human coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes Covid-19, the feline coronaviruses (FCoV) have been known for many years. These include the Feline Enteral Coronavirus (FECV) and the much better known Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus (FIPV). The latter causes fatal feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which in affected cats leads to peritonitis and ascites. On the other hand, people suffering from Covid-19, especially immunocompromised such as the elderly and the sick, suffer from flu-like symptoms.

As of July 2020

Cats that have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus must be officially reported to the German veterinary authorities with immediate effect. The federal government decided that. However, you do not have to report this yourself. The treating veterinarian or the laboratory forwards the test results to the competent authority.

This is intended to support research and obtain new knowledge about the occurrence, transmission, and spread of the virus. Furthermore, risks to animal and human health can be identified at an early stage.

As the owner, you are not obliged to have your cat tested. That’s up to you. If you notice symptoms such as frequent sneezing, coughing, or shortness of breath in your velvet paw, these could be signs of an infection. Then you can have your cat tested for the virus if you wish.

Initial studies by the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (Federal Research Institute for Animal Health of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture) show that cats are more susceptible to the virus than dogs.

However, the analysis so far does not provide any indication that cats or other pets transmit the coronavirus to humans. However, this cannot be completely ruled out, the Tagesschau quotes the head of the institute, Thomas Mettenleiter.

Status at the end of March 2020

At the end of 2019, the first human cases of the novel infectious disease Covid-19 were announced in China. Thousands of people around the world are currently infected and the question of where the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus comes from has not yet been fully clarified. According to the current state of science, respiratory disease was transmitted to humans via bats, pangolins or snakes. The Federal Research Institute for Animal Health (Friedrich-Löffler-Institut, FLI) has so far classified the transmission of Covid-19 from humans to cats and vice versa as unlikely.

Although a Belgian cat of a woman suffering from Covid-19 with breathing difficulties and diarrhea was noticed a few days ago and SARS-CoV-2 could be detected, the FLI continues to emphasize that this is an isolated case. The cat is currently under veterinary observation and is doing well according to the circumstances.

The viruses were also detected on the nose and in the mouth of two dogs from Hong Kong. However, since their antibody titer against the virus was too low, the doctors assume contamination from the environment.

Should I be afraid to let my cat outside?

There is currently no scientific evidence that cats can transmit the novel coronavirus to humans. If your cat is doing well, it can continue to leave the house and explore the area. However, when dealing with pets, you should follow hygiene measures such as washing your hands after contact with animals and regular cleaning of feed and droppings.

What happens to my cat if I have to be quarantined?

People in quarantine are not allowed to leave their house or apartment. If your cat is outdoors, you can still let them into the garden or the neighborhood. If you need food or activity material, ask someone close to you for help or order online. Currently, many postmen offer contactless deliveries.

In addition to Covid-19, the long-known coronaviruses of cats (FCoV) play a major role for four-legged friends, as they can be very dangerous. The following article explains which coronaviruses are included, which symptoms occur, and how cats can be protected from them:

Cat Coronavirus: Distribution and Characteristics

The coronaviruses of cats include the Feline Enteral Coronavirus (FECV) and the resulting Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus (FIPV). Both viruses divide again into two different types (serotype I and II), which also differ in their properties. FECV, FIPV, and Covid-19 are therefore three different viruses that just belong to the same family.

The Feline Enteral Coronavirus (FECV)

This virus is widespread among cats, with cat breeds being particularly affected. Cats can become infected through direct and indirect contact with secretions from the respiratory tract, contaminated feces, and urine. For example, cats infect each other through contaminated food bowls, litter boxes, or while playing. The viruses enter the gastrointestinal tract via the mouth, where they initially multiply and then attack the regional lymph nodes and scavenger cells (macrophages) of the immune system.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus (FIPV)

While the Feline Enteral Coronavirus (FECV) is widespread, infection with the Feline Infectious Peritonitis virus is much less common in cats. This is because the virus is not transmitted through direct or indirect contact. It is caused by random mutations of the Feline Enteral Coronavirus (FECV) in the phagocytes so that potentially every cat infected with FECV can carry the Feline Infectious Peritonitis virus. If the cat actually falls ill with FIP, this, unfortunately, means its death sentence in this country.

To date, an active ingredient against FIP ​​in cats is only available in the USA. Unfortunately, the promising drug has not yet been approved in Germany. The veterinarian treats sick cats symptomatically. In any case, FIP is still fatal for the cat.

We have summarized all the important information about feline infectious peritonitis for you in a separate article.

Cat Coronavirus: What’s the Prognosis?

The prognosis of infection with FECV is usually good, but there is always a risk of a mutation to FIPV. Cats under one-year-old and over 14 years of age are particularly at risk here.

How Can I Protect My Cat from Coronavirus?

The following preventive measures will protect your cat from infection with feline coronaviruses:

  • Regular cleaning of the litter box, drinking bowl, and feeding bowl
  • Avoiding stress
  • Check pregnant cats and litters regularly and always avoid contact with infected cats
  • Vaccination against the virus of feline infectious peritonitis is available from the 16th week of life, but this is controversial
Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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