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Can cats and dogs get coronavirus or COVID-19?

Cat being held by man wearing a face mask
Update (March 27, 2020): As of today, there is still no evidence that pets spread COVID-19. The CDC states: “There is no reason at this time to think that any animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. To date, CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19 in the United States.

Coronavirus is spreading fast and the panic which has set in all over the world is palpable. However, there are a lot of myths being spread all over the internet and trustworthy information is becoming more and more difficult to come by.

For many people, one of the main concerns is that their pets, in particular, their feline friends.

Cats wander around and can pick up all types of diseases, and coronavirus could be one of them. But are cats able to carry and transfer the COVID-19 virus that is responsible for this mass panic? Equally importantly, are our beloved cat and dog friends affected by the coronavirus?

In this article, we are going to find out the answer to this question.

Can cats and dogs spread COVID-19?

Health experts have issued information regarding coronavirus and pets; it’s good news.

Up until this point, it has not been observed that any humans have contracted the virus from animals kept as pets, including cats. There is no evidence at this time that shows that animals are affected by coronavirus in the same way that humans are affected.

Read on to learn more about current cases and advice.

Pets and coronavirus

A pet, more specifically a dog, was placed into quarantine in Hong Kong last week after it tested positive for coronavirus, but it was a weak positive and it is believed that the animal received the virus from its owner, who was a confirmed case themselves.

The animal did not show any symptoms of the condition and so it would appear that they may be immune to its effects – at least according to current research.

On top of this, some areas of China have called for all pets to be put into quarantine and have ordered the killing of any stray dogs. Is it over the top and unethical? Or is it a perfectly warranted move?

Will you catch coronavirus from a cat?

There are still major concerns amongst cat owners that their loved furry friends may be carrying the virus and could potentially infect them with it.

One important thing to remember is that the COVID-19 virus is only likely to be caught by humans who have been in direct contact with an already infected patient and who have not observed good hygiene routines.

The same applies when handling your cats. If you are concerned about catching coronavirus from your cat, the best thing you can do is to ensure that you regularly wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds) and do not touch your face.

Big ginger cat held by person

Facts about cats and COVID-19

Keeping the above information in mind, it would seem that pet cats and other animals that have been domesticated cannot be infected with the new coronavirus which is so dramatically affecting humans. Let’s take a look at some of the facts:

  • There are a whole host of illnesses which cannot be passed between domestic animals and their humans, for example, you cannot catch a common cold from your cat. This would further suggest that cats cannot spread coronavirus to humans.
  • Despite there being a weak positive result in a Hong Kong dog, the focus should be on the fact that it was weak. The owner of the dog could have passed on a very mild form of the illness to the dog who may simply be a host for the condition. This means that it may not carry an infection strong enough to have any chance of spreading.
  • The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) in USA, who are among some of the top experts in the world have advised that “there is no good reason to believe that any animals, including ones kept as pets in the USA, could be a source of infection of the coronavirus“.
  • Animals, including cats, have cell receptors that are different from humans and so react and engage with viruses in a different way. This means that it is highly possible that cats cannot catch coronavirus, although there may be an animal equivalent which would not affect humans.
  • If your pet is kept at home and has not been in contact with other animals, the chances of them carrying coronavirus are almost impossible.
  • Since the evidence would point towards cats not being able to contract the virus, it is in fact pet owners who are more likely to spread the virus rather than the pets themselves.

See the CDC frequently asked questions about COVID-19. There is a section called “COVID-19 and Animals”.

Cat held by man in a face mask

Advice for pet owners

You can be quite confident in stating that your cat will not spread the coronavirus / COVID-19 disease.

There are more and more news articles and reports to support this being released every day. However, if you are still worried that your cat might be a source of infection, there are things that you can do to put your mind at rest.

  • It is advised by the World Health Organisation that you should wash your hands thoroughly after contact with pets anyway and so this is something that you can employ if you are worried about the risk of the COVID-19 virus. Use soap and warm water to thoroughly clean your hands and if this is not available, you can use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid bringing your cat into contact with anyone who has been exposed to the condition, and if possible keep them indoors. However, it is not advised to completely quarantine your cat if they are used to being able to come and go as they please as this can be distressing to the animal.
  • Keep your cat up to date with its annual vaccinations in order to keep them protected from various illnesses and to ensure that they are always in good health.

Here’s an article on Contagion: CDC Recommendations for Coronavirus Home Isolation with Pets.

Summary

Despite some drastic action being taken in parts of Asia, there is no evidence to suggest that cats or any other type of domestic animal can carry, spread and suffer symptoms of coronavirus.

Cats have different bodies to humans and react differently to a variety of viruses meaning that the chances of catching one from your cat are very very low.

There is NO need to isolate cats or other pets unless advice from the CDC or other government authority changes.

Many health organizations across the globe have given advice that the spread of coronavirus is not attributed to animals and that no measures need to be put into place where they are concerned.

However, if you are concerned about the spread of coronavirus, the most important thing you can do is practice good hygiene and handwashing. That’s it!

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About the author

Kacper Jednorowicz

Hi, I'm Kacper! I have a four-year-old female Bengal cat, called Coco. She's an active and friendly indoor cat that lives with us in the UK, but also enjoys several hours a day in the garden. Just like any responsible and loving cat owner, I want to ensure that she's a happy and healthy cat! My articles cover guides and reviews based on professional vet advice, our own experiences with Coco and plenty of research!

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Our furry friend is a four-year-old Bengal girl called Coco – she’s crazy, has plenty of energy and is VERY noisy!

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