Can your cat get coronavirus? Scarily, yes. It’s not what you think though, it’s very very different than what humans are getting.
Feline coronavirus and COVID-19 are two totally different entities.
As things are really uncertain and confusing right now, medical communities are working overtime to get ahead of this new virus attacking the globe one person at a time. There is a lot of information (and misinformation) going around about the coronavirus disease and pet parents are wondering 1) is coronavirus a thing to be of concern for my cat and 2) should I be worried about my cat’s health and safety. Short answer? No. The chances of your cat getting coronavirus is very very slim.
Anyways, let’s get to it!
The coronavirus that currently has the world on a temporary close is being called COVID-19. The virus started in Chin and has now made its way all over the world. It is highly highly contagious and has spread like wildfire amongst humans in the last three months or so.
Coronaviruses are actually a large group of viruses that include ones such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the common cold. Coronaviruses are zoonotic - they do not originate from humans but can be spread from animals to people. This typically comes about through unhygienic conditions and or ingesting infected animals.
However, this doesn’t mean that an infected human can give the disease to their pet. We’ve had other forms of coronavirus that originated in the animal kingdom, like SARS and MERS. MERS originated in camels and SARS was first transmitted from cats to humans.
We’re more than happy to report that the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are monitoring the current situation very carefully and cautiously.
If you’re wanting up-to-date updates about COVID-19, we recommend checking out those organizations' websites stat.
So far, experts believe that your cat isn’t easily susceptible to contracting the coronavirus. Earlier in the COVID-19 months, a Pomeranian in Hong Kong was believed to be infected with the coronavirus, with tests coming back as a “weak positive”. These tests that Hong Kong authorities used found viral RNA in the dog’s nose and mouth samples. They put the dog in self-quarantine. Since quarantining the dog, he has continued to test negative for the infection. They are still keeping him quarantined in case he could be a carrier for the disease. Crazy huh?
As medical experts and researchers have shared, they believe this Pomeranian was a rare/isolated case. As of currently, there is not yet evidence that pet owners are spreading this disease to their furry friends, vice versa. It seems that this virus can only be transmitted from human to human.
It’s been suspected that the positive dog test results were due to the fact that particles from the infected paw parent were present on the dog because of physical contact between pet owner and dog. Thus, it wasn’t believed that the dog was in fact “infected”, the dog showed no signs of clinical disease.
With this being said, canines and felines are mammals, just like us. Yes, they do share many of the same cell receptors as us humans, so it is entirely possible that the virus could attach to their cells. However, from what we understand as of late, this is not a likely scenario.
As we have briefly discussed above, COVID-19 is not likely to spread to your furry best friend. Woo! But, do note, there is a coronavirus called Feline Coronavirus that exists in cats. It has existed for quite a bit and the symptoms are very different than what you’d think.
As a feline friend and parent, you’ve likely vaccinated your cat already, against cat coronavirus without even knowing it. Feline Coronavirus is a common viral infection in felines that can cause minimal to mild diarrhea.
Fortunately enough, cat coronavirus only becomes extremely severe in less than 1% of cases. In these serious cases, Feline Coronavirus can mutate (unfortunately), causing Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), which can be fatal.
The majority of cats infected with Feline Coronavirus can eliminate the virus simply after the virus goes through its system. In these instances, your cat may not really show any signs or symptoms, but the virus will become apparent in their feces and may affect other cats. If Feline Coronavirus spreads, more cases of FIP may start to pop up.
So in the instance that your feline gets coronavirus, should you keep your cat? Take him or her to the vet? Not exactly.
If you do become infected with COVID-19 though, health experts do recommend that you self-quarantine from your friends, family, and pets. If you do become ill with COVID and have no choice but to keep your pet around, be sure to proceed with caution, such as wearing a mask and watching your hands frequently.
If at all possible and doable, the best thing to do is to have a friend, neighbor, family member, or colleague watch your cat for a few days. Call it a cat vacation!
Each day that researchers and clinicians are working with COVID, the symptoms checklist becomes more detailed. If your infection turns severe, your symptoms may be more apparent and you may need to seek medical attention right away.
Some human symptoms to keep an eye out for are:
It may feel like you have the flu, seriously. The key difference here though is that your shortness of breath and coughing will be much more severe in COVID-19 patients. Like the coronavirus SARS, coronavirus is a respiratory illness so when your cough worsens, you may develop trouble breathing with the possibility of developing pneumonia.
Feline Coronavirus is an infection that has affected cats for a long period of time. It’s very different from the current strain of the coronavirus attacking humans around the world.
Your veterinarian will most likely vaccinate your cat against the feline coronavirus, but it’s always a great idea to check!
When it comes to the current viral outbreak we’re experiencing, rest assured, research is holding promise that you can’t pass on COVID-19 to your beloved four-legged feline friend. The most important thing that paw parents can do for their cats during a time such as this is to take them into account when planning and preparing for the outbreak. Do you have a cat bag packed for your kitty if they need to stay at a friend’s for a few days? Do you have cat food stalked in the cabinets and fridge?
Incorporate your cat into your family emergency plan. Stock up on cat food for these “emergency” situations, regardless if it’s a ‘what if’ scenario. Keep an eye out for clinical signs and symptoms of the virus. Stay healthy kitty moms and dads! Your feline friends need you!