We have had a few people contact us asking about the threat of cats catching and/or spreading the new coronavirus to humans. The latest news from Hong Kong states that both dogs and cats cannot pass coronavirus to humans. This comes from Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. The conclusion was reached after tests were carried out on a dog that tested positive for COVID-19 for a three week period, the last test taking place on March 2, 2020.
The department have said that currently there is no evidence that pet animals can be a source of infection of the coronavirus or that they can become sick from it. However, they can catch the virus from people which results in testing positive for low levels of the pathogen. The dog (and a second dog in quarantine that is currently virus free) will be tested once again before they can leave quarantine.
The coronavirus is believed to have originated in bats before passing to an unknown species (suggestions are a small mammal), which then passed it on to humans. This may be of some concern to hear but the College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences of Hong Jong City University, along with the School of Public Health of the University of Hong Kong and the World Organisation for Animal Health all agree that the quarantined dog with a low level infection is highly likely to be a result of human to animal transmission.
What Happens to My Pets if I Have to Self-Isolate?
Currently, here in the UK and elsewhere in the world the advice is that you may need to self-isolate if you have recently returned from an infected area, or have been in contact with someone who is infected with the virus. Close contact is spending 15 minutes within a 6 ft range of the infected person or having face to face contact.
If you are told to self-isolate, you will need to try to stay away from your pets. If this isn’t possible, it is important to wash your hands before and after contact to try to reduce the risk of passing the virus to your pets or risk spreading the virus via the animal’s fur. Further advice includes not kissing your pets and always washing hands before and after feeding or touching any equipment/toys used by the animal.
What Happens to My Pets if I am Quarantined?
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of Hong Kong do recommend putting cats and dogs into quarantine if someone from the home does develop symptoms and have tested positive for the virus.
It is worth staying aware of your cat’s territory, especially is you suspect that they enter the homes of other people in your neighbourhood. Cats will commonly enter cat flaps uninvited and are often encouraged to enter the homes of cat loving individuals who welcome them. Keep an eye on local developments and keep your pet inside if you or any family members are told to self-isolate.
If you are concerned about the health of your pet after contact with someone with COVID-19 you must seek advice from your vet. Give them a call and inform them of the current situation and symptoms.