Cats can become infected with the coronavirus – this is shown by isolated cases and tests in the laboratory. Your animal world tells you what you can do to protect your cat from infection – and whether your cat needs a mask.
Worldwide there are only three confirmed cases of cats infected with the new coronavirus: After one cat in Belgium, two cats in New York have now also tested positive. In addition, several big cats in a New York zoo have contracted the virus.
According to the World Health Organization, there are now more than 3.4 million confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide. Compared to this, the risk for cats seems to be relatively low.
The researchers at the Friedrich Loeffler Institute (FLI), the Federal Research Institute for Animal Health, have found that cats can be infected with the virus in experiments. They also excrete this and can infect other cats.
However, experience so far shows that pets cannot infect people. They seem to shed the virus in too small amounts to become a source of infection for us.
Therefore: You should not leave your pet blindly out of fear of infection or give it to an animal shelter!
According to the German Animal Welfare Association, there is currently no evidence of severe or fatal infections in pets. So far, all cats that tested positive have recovered or are on the mend.
Nevertheless, as a cat parent, you want your cat to stay healthy. And the following tips will help:
How Can I Protect My Cat?
Most importantly, basic hygiene practices are observed when handling pets. This includes washing your hands before and after handling your cat. You should also avoid kisses and you shouldn’t let your cat lick you on the face.
You should also avoid sharing food and prolonged close contact – for example when your cat is sleeping in your bed. Incidentally, this also applies to dogs.
If you or someone else in your household is sick with Covid-19, it is best to have an uninfected person in the same household take care of the cat. The FLI also advises against moving the cat to another home or animal shelter where it could spread the virus.
Your cat should stay in quarantine with you. In other words: If you have an outdoor cat, it must at least temporarily become a house tiger.
None of your relatives, friends, or neighbors can look after your cat? Then contact the veterinary office to find a solution.
Does My Cat Have to Wear a Mask?
The clear answer here is: No! Masks and disinfectants are not necessary for pets, according to the German Animal Welfare Association. On the contrary, they do more harm: “They stress the animals enormously and can also damage their skin and mucous membranes.” You can wear a mask yourself to protect your cat – this is the advice of the American Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC).
First of all, the question arises whether it makes sense at all to have the cat tested. That would only be the case if you tested positive for the coronavirus yourself.
The FLI advises against testing cats that have not had any proven contact with SARS-CoV-2 infected people.
If you are infected and want to have your cat tested, you should report this to the responsible veterinary office. You should also seek advice from your vet beforehand. “Sampling should be carried out by a qualified and appropriately protected person on site,” informs the FLI. For the examination, swabs can be taken from the lining of the throat or nose. Fecal samples should only be taken if other samples are eliminated.
You don’t have to worry about getting infected with your cat. The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) estimates the risk of transmission from cats to humans as low.
Nevertheless, if the test is positive, your cat should be isolated for 14 days if possible – unless it does not already live in a household with people in isolation or quarantine. People who have had close contact with the cat are Category II contacts.