We recently covered a story where a dog tested positive for coronavirus, and it left many pet owners wondering if their pets could catch coronavirus.
While cats can catch coronavirus, it isn’t the one that the world is currently facing, but another coronavirus that has already been around for a very long time.
Can Cats Catch Coronavirus, or Covid-19?
You might wonder why a dog would test positive for Covid-19 at all. Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) is testing to see whether the dog was actually infected or if had just been contaminated with the virus.
The founder of Hong Kong-based Lifelong Animal Protection Charity (LAP), Sheila McClelland, said the following in a letter to the Hong Kong authorities, which was shared with CNN.
Present evidence suggests that dogs are no more of a risk of spreading (coronavirus) than inanimate objects such as door handles.”
In other words, while an animal might test positive for coronavirus, that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily infected.
Should You Quarantine Your Pets?
Although you aren’t likely to get coronavirus from a pet, there does still seem to be some merit in quarantining if you believe your pet was exposed to Covid-19.
Hong Kong SPCA’s chief veterinary surgeon, Jane Gray, who spent time working in Hong Kong during the SARS scare, had this to say about it:
“Whilst it seems a bit scary, it’s purely a precautionary measure and it’s certainly nothing for pet owners, in general, to be concerned about.”
She also said there was no benefit in fitting animals with face masks, and said that instead, pet owners should just make sure that they’re following basic hygiene.
If you touch pets that have been outdoors, just make sure to watch your hands with soap and water afterward. If you’re worried about your dog after taking it for a walk, you can wipe their paws with antiseptic wipes, but be careful not to overdo it.
“I am certainly not in any concern of my dogs or cats. I’m far more concerned about myself catching it from a human being that has the disease,” said Gray.
Your Cats Can Catch Coronavirus of a Different Variety
There is a different variety of coronavirus that has been around for a very long time, and it’s so common that 80-90% of cats, especially in multi-cat households, have already been exposed to it.
The biggest danger of coronavirus when it comes to cats is that it can mutate into feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which is thankfully far less common.
Until recently, there was no cure for FIP–and I even lost a beloved cat myself to FIP several years ago. Thanks to research by Dr. Pedersen, cats with FIP now have hope in the form of an antiviral called GS-441524.
While veterinarians do not carry this antiviral, there are Facebook groups dedicated to helping cat owners have access and information about how they can potentially save their cat’s lives. If you’d like to know more, we recommend contacting FIP Warriors.