Coronavirus and Cats: What Cat Owners Need to Know About COVID-19

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Even though millions of Americans are vaccinated for COVID-19, the virus, breakthrough cases, and outbreaks continue to dominate news headlines. Each day scientists and medical experts learn more about the coronavirus, including how it can affect your cat. Catster did some digging, and here’s the latest information you need to know.

Can Cats Get Covid-19?

Your cat can get COVID-19.

As of late July, a total of 97 cats in the United States have tested positive for the virus.

“It is extremely rare,” Veterinarian Lori Teller, with the American Veterinary Medical Association, tells Catster.

In the United States, there have been more than 34-million cases of COVID-19 in people and 97 cases in cats, so statistically, the numbers are low.

Dr. Teller adds that none of the cats who tested positive for the virus died. “Most cases are asymptomatic, but some cats will show some mild either respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms,” she says. “So, they may have a little bit of sneezing, a sniffly nose, or maybe have nausea or loose stools.”

Can you give COVID-19 to your cat?

You can give COVID-19 to your cat.

All the cats who tested positive were exposed to a human who had COVID-19 and later noticed their cat seemed under the weather.

Cats must have close contact with an infected person who may have coughed or sneezed on the cat to contract the virus.

“The most likely way that cats get COVID is from a human in the household,” Dr. Teller says. “So, it could be that you or someone in the family has gotten COVID and you don’t feel well, and you snuggle with your cat because that helps you feel better. But then your cat catches COVID.”

Can you catch COVID-19 from your cat?

Unlikely.

It seems it’s more of a one-way street; people can give COVID-19 to their cats, but not the other way around.

“Cats do not appear to be participating in any significant spread of covid,” Dr. Teller says. “Viruses are interesting organisms, and it’s still something that we’re learning about, but cats are not primary hosts of COVID-19, so it’s just harder for them to spread it.”

Currently, the CDC is not recommending the routine testing of animals.

If you’re quarantined or sick, what precautions should you take with your cat?

The CDC does recommend if you’re exposed to the virus or have it, you should limit interaction with your pets, just like you would with people in your home.

The agency says if you’re symptomatic, “avoid direct contact with pets, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.”

And Dr. Teller advises wearing a mask and gloves before handling your cat if you’re self-quarantined or sick. You can also have another person in your home, who is not sick, be the primary caregiver for the pet. Dr. Teller says you don’t need to send your pet away; just take precautions.

In case of an emergency, what food and supplies does my cat need?

The pandemic made us rethink life as we knew it, and experts say no matter if a disease outbreak shutters the entire world or a hurricane hits your town, you should always have an emergency stash of supplies for your pet. COVID-19 was a wake-up call.

The Red Cross and FEMA both recommend having a two-week supply of food, medications, cat litter, and all the supplies you need to care for your kitty.

But crisis response expert, Diane Vukovic, author of Disaster Preparedness for Women, suggests getting a month’s worth of stuff.

“The supply chain goes crazy during disasters, and you don’t want to have to fight with someone in the store,” Diane says. “Even though it’s unlikely the water supply will be disrupted, you should stockpile water too. Take the weight of your animal in pounds and divide it by eight. This is the amount of water they need per day in cups.”

What if I’m quarantined or get COVID-19, and my cat needs to go to the vet?

If you’re quarantined and it’s not an urgent appointment, call your vet, tell them what’s going on, and reschedule.

If you test positive for the virus, your local health department will be notified. Tell them you have a cat and ask for their advice if there is an emergency.

“If your cat needs urgent veterinary care and you’re under quarantine, you’ll need to loop in your public health officials so your cat can get veterinary care while you maintain your quarantine,” Dr. Teller says.

What we know about cats and the coronavirus

Dr. Teller says though research is ongoing, it appears pets play a minor role in COVID-19.  But what studies have proven is all the positive health benefits pets have on people, like improved mental health, stress reduction, and weight loss.

“We know so many people adopted pets during the pandemic, that was because they are so good for us,” Dr. Teller says. “Let’s continue, as we recover from the pandemic, recognizing the important role they play in our lives. Let’s not abandon them or rehome them because we fear our pets either getting COVID or spreading it to us.”

The USDA keeps a tally on its website of the number and types of animals that test positive for COVID-19.

For more information on this continually changing situation, bookmark the CDC’s website.

29 thoughts on “Coronavirus and Cats: What Cat Owners Need to Know About COVID-19”

  1. If anyone gives their pet away because they are scared they will get covid from their pet , well hear this. You have a harden heart, you should get covid and get really sick and be on a breathing machine. You would be such a low down person you would deserve to be gravely sick!

  2. Our cat became ill along with both of us over one year ago. We humans quickly recovered. She was senior, and developed a bacterial pneumonitis, which we treated with antibiotic twice daily for 5 days (not an easy task!). She recovered and lived another year. All three of us had been infected with the same virus, undoubtably Covid19.

  3. shabnam charlie

    I have a question to ask. if someone touches the cats with gloves (im not sure if it was clean. for how long should i keep her in the room ( for fur contamination )?

  4. Jeannette Blumenthal

    Best wishes to you. We too live out in a rural area, but unfortunately our nearest source of supplies has a lot of panicked customers so we have been hard pressed to keep cleaning supplies replenished. We have 19 indoor cars and there are always hairballs, spitups, and other unfortunate things that have to be cleaned up. Everyone stay safe.

  5. Very good article. Thanks! BTW, I have 3 cats (twelve years old) and they will always be kitties to me!

  6. Thanks you for the information. It is a very good article. I keep receiving emails from other organizations saying that your pet could give you the Virus. Many people will probably give up their pets out of fear. Articles like this are very helpful and probably save many pets life’s. Thank you.

    1. You can’t get it from your cat…they are at risk from humans…but we can’t get it from them…i wish more responsible sites would make that very clear…

  7. Why do you refer to mature cats as “kitties”? They are not young or children. They are adults. How would you like to be called a “kiddie”? Just because they are animals and not humans is no reason to refer to them as if they had just been born. Cat owners should refer to their adult pets as “cats,” not “kids.”

    1. A “kitty” is another name for a cat. It doesn’t indicate the age of the cat in any way. Besides, who are you to tell cat owners what they should be referring to their cats as?

    2. My oldest cat’s name is and always will be Kitty. I love my kitties, all five of them. They’re kind of old but they are the best kitties in the world.

    3. So? What’s it to you? My kitties.. oh, sorry, “cats”, will forever be my little babies and they love it! Why post such a useless comment. I don’t think cats/kittens care what they’re called to be honest, so long as they are treated with love and care, it doesn’t matter.

      One of my little kittys is a bit chubby and has loved too eat since he was born! So the nickname “Fatboy” rather accidentally came about, and forever he has stayed as “Fatboy” although his offical name is “Jupiter”. But we don’t call him Fatboy in a bad way, we call him it out of love, and he knows his name and he responds to it happily!

  8. I have six dogs and two cats in my home, they all live in the house and lay claim to all the spare space on settees and other soft spaces, the house is 3Kms from the nearest shops, my nearest neighbour is 3 miles away I am surrounded by 10 million healthy Olive trees, on a busy day 3 or 4 cars will drive past my front gate, I go out once a week to my local LIDL supermarket for supplies, all the staff wear masks, not one customer has been seen ‘PANIC BUYING’ so the shelves are always full, plenty for everyone, not just the mindless, greedy few. The internet is my lifeline to keep up with this horrendous plague, I hope that my situation will keep me and my precious animal family safe and well until this stupid situation is finaly over, good luck to one and all, all over the world. Gerry

    1. Jeannette Blumenthal

      Best wishes to you. We too live out in a rural area, but unfortunately our nearest source of supplies has a lot of panicked customers so we have been hard pressed to keep cleaning supplies replenished. We have 19 indoor cars and there are always hairballs, spitups, and other unfortunate things that have to be cleaned up. Everyone stay safe.

  9. Thank you for the advice I may ask is there anyway you can put that on the site and China and places where they are slaughtering animals just because of the fire and I heard that they were burying them alive I need to know that these animals will be okay they will not hurt them

    1. When I heard the news about the animals in China, I am not going to lie I held mine a little longer that day. I cannot imagine the animal owners that had to leave them behind. My animals are the reason my life has ended up the way it has. The are not animals the are family (just furry) I grew up with animals and so did my mom and her family and so on , and to the ones that did not your heart must have a void to not have the unconditional love from a pet. I could not imagine my life without mine by my side!!

    2. Sadly the Chineesare by tradition a very cruel race, they care very little about pain and suffering being felt by animals as far as their sick minds are concerned animals can not feel pain and suffering the whole world must now get together to take control of the many disgusting ways that these disgusting people live and behave.

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