Statement from International Cat Care and International Society of Feline Medicine
International Cat Care was very concerned to read the BBC news report published this morning (8/4/2020) presenting advice to keep cats indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The article was alarmist and has since been edited, however, it has been shared around the world and picked up by other agencies. We have brought together some of the world’s leading feline veterinary specialists to produce a statement.
There remains no evidence of transmission of COVID-19 to humans from pets. Emerging reports of very few animals show potential transmission to dogs and cats from humans with the virus, but more research is needed. Similarly, it is currently unclear if cat to cat transmission is possible in natural infections, with limited data from experimental studies only available.
Therefore, it is not recommended that all cats are kept indoors. Cats used to outdoor access could suffer significant stress due to confinement and several serious health conditions are associated with stress. This confinement may also cause stress for cat owners, again to be avoided at this difficult time. If you are at all worried, do not pat or stroke any pets other than your own.
The recommendations remain as previously stated by International Cat Care and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA):
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19 you should avoid direct interaction with pets if possible, and wear gloves and a mask, and wash hands after handling any pet.
- For households with no symptoms of COVID-19, take normal sensible hygiene precautions and wash hands after handling pets.
- For owners more vulnerable to COVID-19 due to underlying health issues the same advice applies, take sensible hygiene precautions when handling cats with outdoor access and avoid close contact.
- There is no current evidence of transmission from pet fur to humans, hence no current advice to clean pets before handling them.
The use of disinfectants on pets may cause significant distress to both animals and humans, and potential toxicity or chemical burns (especially for cats), so this is not recommended at this time.
Information is constantly emerging on this virus and up to date information can be found in the WSAVA Coronavirus hub at https://wsava.org/news/highlighted-news/the-new-coronavirus-and-companion-animals-advice-for-wsava-members/ and the American Veterinary Medical Association at https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19.
Some cats may be used to an indoor-only lifestyle, although attention should be paid to stress reduction with changes in human behaviour such as working from home. Please see an open-access webinar from International Cat Care on helping cats adjust to changes in their household at https://icatcare.org/event/international-cat-care-webinar-open-access-covid-19/.
This statement has been put together by International Cat Care and its veterinary division the International Society of Feline Medicine
With thanks to the RCVS Recognised Specialists in Feline Medicine:
- Samantha Taylor BVetMed(Hons) CertSAM DipECVIM-CA MANZCVS FRCVS
- Angie Hibbert BVSc CertSAM DipECVIM-CA MRCVS
- Sheila Wills BSc BVetMed CertSAM DipECVIM-CA MRCVS
- Nicola Reed BVM&S CertVR CertSAM DipECVIM-CA DSAM(Feline) MRCVS
- Sarah Caney BVSc DSAM(Feline) PhD MRCVS
- Martha Cannon BA VetMB DSAM(Feline) MRCVS
- Christina Maunder BVM&S CertSAM DipECVIM-ca MRCVS
- Kerry Rolph BVM&S PhD FACVSc DipECVIM-CA MRCVS
- Natalie Finch BVSc PhD DipECVIM-CA MRCVS