Caring for your cat in quarantine

We’ve all heard recently about the extremely rare cases of COVID-19 found in one tiger and two smaller felines in Hong Kong and Belgium. While it might seem daunting, the reality is basic hygiene principals will help keep your pet safe from COVID-19.

“From the evidence we are seeing globally human-to-cat cases are rare and isolated”, said Dr Cunliffe who is Head of Hospital at Lort Smith, adding, “The main method of transmission of COVID-19 is human to human”.

A preliminary study on cats[1], yet to be peer reviewed; and a separate previous study on ferrets[2] suggests some extra caution if you test positive to COVID-19.

Upholding basic hygiene principals is key to protecting your pet. Hand hygiene is essential before and after handling your pets, as well as their food and water bowls.

“The evidence is clear: practicing appropriate hygiene principles is the best way to protect you and your pets from COVID-19,” says Dr Cunliffe adding, “and while it might seem obvious, don’t kiss your pet.”

Lort Smith advises that people who have tested positive to COVID-19 should avoid close contact with their pets. Where possible, have another member of the house care for the pet during this time.

Additionally ensure all people living in the household maintain good hygiene practices – including minimising direct contact to best protect animal companions.

“If you are at all worried about your pet, please call your vet,” implores Dr Cunliffe.

What to do if you have COVID-19 or are in self-isolation

  • Keep your pet/s indoors if they have been potentially exposed to a human case
  • Minimise contact with the pet – especially avoid close contact
  • If possible ensure anyone who has tested positive to COVID-19 has no direct contact with the pet
  • Maintain good hand hygiene including before and after handling any pet and their food and water bowls.
  • Develop a pet care plan in the event of you being hospitalised – download Lort Smith’s pet ready quarantine checklist.

Lort Smith remains open to the public and will continue to offer emergency, urgent and essential care to animals. At present Lort Smith’s opening hours are 8:30am-10pm every day of the year.

[1] Study: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.03.30.015347v1

[2] Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) has informed vets of the following: according to studies no known ferret has naturally contracted SARS (SARS-CoV-1 or this current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic). However given the evidence of experimental clinical infection in ferrets with SARS-CoV-1 we suggest extra caution be taken if a ferret has been exposed to an infected owner.

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Related article: No evidence to suggest companion animals can transmit COVID-19 to humans