|Purred: Sat Nov 10, '07 1:52pm PST |
How do cats and kittens catch FCoV?
FCoV is a very contagious virus, infecting nearly all cats who encounter it. The major source of infection is the faeces of infected cats, and uninfected cats become infected by sharing litter trays with infected cats. The second major route of infection is the unintentional exposure of uninfected cats to tiny particles of infected faeces on people’s shoes or clothing, hands, poop scoops, etc. The infected cat likely swallows the virus when grooming, or when particles of faeces contaminate their food.
FCoV is occasionally shed in the saliva, early in infection, so sharing food bowls or inhaling sneezed droplets could possibly allow infection to occur. Close contact with infected cats, for example in mutual grooming, might, rarely, result in infection.
Feline coronavirus almost never crosses the placenta to the unborn kitten. Most kittens which become infected do so after protective antibody they receive in their mother’s milk has waned, usually when they are 5-7 weeks old.
Which of a cat's body secretions contain FCoV?
FCoV is mainly shed in the faeces, and is only shed in the saliva very rarely. At present, there is no evidence that FCoV is present in the tears or urine.
Litter tray hygiene - the most important thing you can do to save your cat from FCoV
If your cat uses a litter tray, then make sure it is declumped as often as possible and use dedicated poop scoops for each cat pen or tray. Better still, if possible, let the cat out to go to the toilet naturally outside (I am aware that this is not always possible or desirable where there is a lot of traffic). If you have several cats, make sure that you have enough litter trays, preferably one for each cat, and get covered or even self-cleaning litter trays. Site the litter tray away from food areas so that microscopic faecal particles cannot be blown onto the cat's food. Use a non-tracking cat litter, to minimise spread of microscopic particles around the house. Once or twice a week, clean your litter tray with domestic bleach (sodium hypochlorite). Do stick to bleach disinfectants, as pine based ones are toxic to cats. Vacuum as often as possible to reduce the number of contaminated cat litter particles.
How long does coronavirus survive in the environment?
In natural circumstances, cats go outside to defaecate and bury their faeces, in which case the virus lasts hours to days (it survives slightly longer in freezing conditions). However, in domesticating the cat we have introduced litter trays: FCoV may survive for several days and possibly up to 7 weeks in dried up faeces in cat litter.
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