If you have pets you may be wondering whether your dog or cat can catch the COVID-19 and what you should do if your pet seems to have coronavirus symptoms.
COVID-19 is just one member of the corona family of viruses. While some coronaviruses lead to cold or flu-like illnesses in humans, others can cause illness in animals. But it's important to note that some coronaviruses only infect animals and do not infect people.
Much like people, pets infected with COVID can be asymptomatic (have no symptoms). In cases when symptoms have appeared in dogs and cats, they have typically been mild. Severe illness from COVID in pets is extremely rare.
Monitor for symptoms
Unfortunately, there are no specific treatments for feline coronavirus as of this writing. All we can do is try to keep your cat safe and comfortable until the virus runs its course.
You also should make sure kitty has adequate shelter from the weather. Even if they seem healthy enough, exposed skin could act as a portal for the disease. For similar reasons, it’s good practice to wash your hands with plain soap and water immediately after dealing with trash or waste material or before touching anything else.
Your loved one will be busy during this time, which is another reason to help them feel more relaxed by limiting contact as much as possible. Also, don’t forget about yourself! While most people can manage some distance relationships, mental health is just as important.
Given all these considerations, why not start practicing social distancing now? At least then your furry friend won’t have to worry about finding a meal or a warm bed while he/she recovers.
Practice social distancing
This is probably one of the most important things you can do for your cat during this pandemic. Socializing with other animals or people can expose them to infectious agents that they may not be able to defend themselves against!
Making sure their home environment is safe by using protective coverings, cleaning up any messes immediately and keeping the area clean are very important.
If possible, keep your cat indoors so they don’t have access to outside environments where infectious agents could survive and thrive.
You also need to make sure there are no outside sources of food or water in case an infected animal eats something or drinks contaminated liquid.
Use a thermometer
It is very important to use a proper, accurate temperature gauge to determine if your cat has a fever. Your body will not have constant contact with your cat’s skin, so it may take some time before you can accurately check their temperatures!
A tympanic (ear) temperature goes up when blood flows into warm tissue in the ear canal caused by heat being absorbed from the body. This method of checking a fever is considered more reliable than oral or nasal swabs because it does not require direct touch of the suspected area.
You can purchase digital ear thermometers that register changes in ear temperature as quickly as one-tenth of a degree Fahrenheit. This makes them much faster to use than traditional glass thermometers which must be held against the nose or mouth for several minutes while the temperature is determined.
Tip: Try using both an oral and ear temperature at the same time to get a better picture of how your cat’s body is reacting to the coronavirus.
Give the cat the anti-viral medication
Even if your cat does not show symptoms of coronavirus, giving them medicine can help prevent it from being transmitted to other cats or people.
You do not have to give your sick cat the drug unless they display symptoms such as coughing, excessive drooling, lethargy or lack of appetite. But it is important to note that there are no guarantees this prevention method will work!
It may also harm your cat instead of helping them. The medication can be very expensive which could make taking care of one time treatment difficult.
If you decide to treat your pet, check with your doctor first to see what dose is appropriate for your cat’s size and weight. You would only need enough for a few days depending on how many days the disease persists in infected animals.
Once the infection has been treated and your dog or cat recovers, take precautionary steps to avoid spreading the virus by using separate bowls and brushes for each food and drink item, washing all equipment used before putting it into cold water, and cleaning any area where your pet had contact.
Provide plenty of fresh drinking water
This is an important thing to do if you notice your cat seems less active or they are going through some significant changes. They may be thirsty due to the loss in body heat, or maybe their paws feel dry and tight.
If your dog does not have access to drink then he or she can get very sick and even die from it. But what about our cats?
Making sure your cat has adequate access to water is an easy way to help them cope with the coronavirus. Ensuring their health by giving them enough fluids can also help mitigate potential spread.
Drinking more can make your cat appear healthier so check that out before making any other recommendations. You could also try wetting the food down if they seem reluctant to eat. That is probably because they do not like the taste or they are feeling weak and bloated from lack of nutrition.
Given how contagious this virus is, leaving your cat alone without checking on them every few minutes is a risk. If possible, keep them inside until you know they are no longer showing symptoms or spreading the disease.
Once they recover, you can re-evaluate whether they need to go back outside. Even if they seem healthy now, there is a chance they still carry the infection and should be kept indoors.
Encourage the cat to stay indoors
Unfortunately, your cat may not be able to enjoy all of the outdoor activities that she was before this epidemic. Even if your cat is very accustomed to spending time outside, she may need some extra supervision during this period.
If you are able to keep her in or near your home, do so! This will help protect her from potentially catching the virus through exposure to other animals or infected wildlife.
It also helps prevent people from interacting with her while they are exposed to the virus. If possible, try to limit activity levels at the animal shelter so that volunteers don’t have to go beyond taking care of basic needs like feeding and resting.
We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to continue practicing social distancing when caring for an older cat. Make sure to keep at least a foot distance between yourself and any other person who might be trying to meet the demands of their cat.
Make sure the cat has identification
If you find your cat acting or looking sick, it is important to know who they belong to! Most shelters have some sort of ID tags that can be used to identify their owner.
These often include both name and address information as well as maybe a phone number too. You should definitely look up your pet’s info before bringing them home!
Shelters are also helpful online. Many offer interactive profiles where you can view all of their documentation.
Contact your vet immediately
If you find your cat acting strangely or showing symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, weight gain, seizures, or excessive crying, take them to the veterinarian right away!
Some cats are more susceptible to disease than others, so it is important to see the doctor as soon as possible even if there isn’t any suspicion that your pet has COVID-19.
The earlier a problem is detected, the better chance your cat will survive. It is also helpful in confirming the diagnosis because some signs can be caused by other diseases.
Sadly, we all know too well how quickly this virus spreads – not just from touching infected surfaces or fluids, but also through direct contact with droplets infected people may produce when they cough or sneeze.
If you notice anything similar in your cat, head over to the clinic ASAP!
After arriving at the office, staff members will have to go through special protective measures due to the risk of infection. This includes using gloves and disinfectant to check your pet out, and possibly changing their own clothes and shoes before coming into contact with yourself or others.
Given that many hospitals now use telemedicine services, you don’t need to travel to get help for your loved one. You can connect via smartphone app or computer software, and speak with a physician virtually instead of in person.