With recent widespread panic over this latest health scare, many pet parents are asking “can cats get the coronavirus?” Of course, your kitty is part of the family, and you want to do everything possible to protect her. Should you be worried though, and do you need to take any precautions?
In this post you’ll discover the truth about coronavirus and if it can be passed on to other species. Plus, what is FCOV, and is your kitty at risk?
What is coronavirus?
You’d have to be living on another planet if you’ve not heard about the coronavirus outbreak. However, this latest virus is part of a family of coronaviruses known to cause illness in animals. The official name Covid-19 has been given to this latest strain, and is only passed between humans. However, the source of the outbreak is believed to be from bats. This make it a zoonotic disease, though it’s unlikely to be transmitted to pets.
Keeping your cat safe
Though it’s highly unlikely your cat would get Covid-19, there are a few precautions you can take. If you’re unlucky enough to get the coroavirus and have to self-isolate, following a few simple guidelines will keep you and your kitty safe. Try and avoid contact as much as possible, but if you do need to interact, wear a face mask.
Wash your hands thoroughly after touching your cat or dog, and keep food bowls clean. You can still allow your cat outside access, but don’t go outside yourself! If you need to call her inside, do so from the window, or get a neighbour to help, Most cats happily return inside if there’s food involved!
If your cat needs vetinary treatment while you’re self-isolating, don’t visit the vet’s surgery, but phone instead. Sometimes, advice over the phone is all that’s needed, but any medication required can’t be picked up by you. In this case, a friend or neighbour may be able to help.
What is fcov and is it similar to covid-19?
Though your cat won’t get coronavirus, she could get fcov. Don’t worry as it’s completely unrelated to the latest worldwide pandemic though. This strain of coronovirus can often be found in healthy cats showing no symptoms. It absolutely can’t be passed to humans, so please don’t panic.
The virus is sometimes found in the feces of healthy cats and may never cause any problems. In fact, it’s thought up to 40% of felines contract fcov at some point in their lives. In very young kittens, it can cause mild diarrhea and lethargy, but rarely anything serious. If you have a kitten with fcov, you’ll find she’ll probably make a full recovery within 2-4 days.
How is fcov transmitted between felines?
Fcov isn’t believed to be transmitted by direct contact, but with what is known as “fecal shedding” Multiple cats that share litter trays are most vulnerable. This is why it’s important you give each kitty her own litter box. Many feline diseases can be avoided this way.
Unfortunately, shelters often have no option but to allow multiple cats to share the same litter. If you know your kitty has been exposed to the virus for any length of time in a shelter, you could get her checked. However, the disease is very hard to diagnose, and vaccination may not always work.
What is fip and can you protect your cat from it?
Fip or feline infectious peritonitis is extremely rare and the result of a mutation. Sadly, though most cases of fcov lead to full recovery, occasionally, the virus can mutate. If you’re unlucky enough to find your kitty has been diagnosed with fip, the outcome may not be good. Fortunately, it’s very rare, and mostly found in very young cats up to 2 years old.
Symptoms vary with no unique signs to watch out for. However, swollen tummy, high temperature, and breathing difficulties seem typical. There’s no cure, and often euthanasia is the only option. On the positive side, only 1 in 10 cats with fcov will develop fip.
Can lowering stress help prevent fip?
If your kitty has been exposed to fcov you may be able to lower the risk of her developing fip by reducing stress in her environment. Avoid situations that involve her being among other cats. This includes boarding kennels and coteries. If you need to go away on vacation, get a pet sitter or friend to care for your fur baby. If you already have other cats in your household that’s fine.
Always keep your cat’s litter box clean, and change the litter daily. Don’t let other pets share her toilet, and give each cat his or her own box. Follow basic hygiene rules such as washing your hands thoroughly after changing soiled litter, and use a mild disinfectant to clean the box. This will greatly reduce your cat’s chances of developing flip.
Should you introduce another cat?
You may be wondering if it’s ok to extend your fur family if your kitty has fcov. As long as your cat is over 2 years old, the chances of her developing feline infectious peritonitis are extremely slim. The new kitty may already have fcov anyway, and it’s virtually unheard of for a resident cat to get the virus from a new feline family member.
You should always follow certain rules when introducing a new cat anyway as my blog post explains. There is no need to isolate your kitty from other resident cats if she has fcov. Chances are they may have it already, and isolating your cat will only cause her stress.
Could a drug used to treat feline coronovirus hold the key to stopping covid-19?
A drug that successfully treated 25 cats works by stopping the virus’s ability to replicate. GS-441524 is very similar to a drug that’s being planned to test on humans. In fact both are held by the same company. However, it’s unlikely any vaccine will be available for some time, and there would undoubtedly be controversy over sharing a similar vaccine used on cats!
I hope this post has helped answer your question “can cats get the coronavirus?”, and reassured you. As you’ve discovered there are many different variations, with one being solely found in the feline population.
Even if your cat is one of the 40% that carries fcov, chances are she’ll never show any symptoms. In addition, once she’s over age 2 years, the likelihood of your kitty catching the virus is very slim. There is far more chance your cat will suffer kidney disease or other illnesses our fur babies are prone to.
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Wishing you a purrfect day:)