The case of a cat getting sick from COVID in Belgium and the sick tigers at the Bronx Zoo have made many cat owners worried about the potential threat to their beloved animals. There have also been cases of dogs testing positive for COVID but none, so far, have been sick. In all cases, the animals caught the virus from an infected human; there’s no evidence of cat to human transmission. However, experiments show that cats can transmit COVID to each other.
So, how much should you worry and what should you do?
What is the Risk to Your Pets?
Of the small sample of pets tested so far, none of the dogs had symptoms. Most of the cats also had no symptoms, and those that did experienced only mild illness. So far, there is no indication that there is a risk of a dog or cat dying or becoming seriously ill.
The only animals infected so far were all in close contact (i.e., same household) with a human with COVID-19.
What Should You Do to Protect Your Pets?
First of all, don’t panic. Although it is theoretically possible for a human to be exposed to COVID through a cat, there is no evidence that this has happened.
Second, take the following precautions:
- Keep your cat indoors (as you should anyway). Indoor/outdoor cats should be confined for the duration. If your cat is leash trained, take them for a walk but keep them away from other cats, dogs, and people.
- Walk your dog at a distance from other dogs or people. Even if dog parks are open, avoid them. Keep your dog home from day care.
- Have someone else care for your pet if you have been exposed to COVID-19. If you have COVID-19, or you suspect that you may have COVID-19, have somebody else take care of your pet temporarily, until you are given the all clear. Don’t pet, snuggle, or kiss your cat or dog until you have completely recovered. If you are quarantining in one room, keep your pets out of the room that you have chosen for your quarantine.
Keeping your pets safe during this time is as important as keeping yourself safe. Thankfully, infection of pets is rare and has yet to result in serious illness, so don’t worry, but do keep your pets away from other households at this time, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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