Black kitten with toy

Coronavirus and cats

Our coronavirus information on this page is written in line with guidelines issued by the Westminster government for England. If you live in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, you may also be subject to additional restrictions. Our advice is a guide for pet owners and should not be taken as legal advice.

Government guidance states that it is rare for animals to catch coronavirus. If they do contract the virus, they often only show mild symptoms and are better within a few days.

There is evidence that infected people can pass coronavirus to cats. As a precaution, you should:

  • wash your hands with soap before and after any contact with your cat, its food and bedding
  • avoid sharing food with your cat
  • avoid contact such as kissing or cuddling if you’re self-isolating

Your pet’s fur can act as a carrier for Covid-19 like other surfaces. But there is no evidence that washing your cat controls the spread of the virus and you must only use products that are made for pets if you do decide to wash them.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause disease in animals.

Covid-19 is a new strain of the coronaviruses that, like seven other strains throughout history, is thought to have made the jump from animals to humans.

The most common human symptoms are a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. If you think you may have coronavirus, follow the latest advice found on the NHS website.

Although there have been media reports of an Covid-19 vaccine for animals, this is not currently available. It also isn’t clear whether this would significantly stop the spread of coronavirus in the community. 

Instead, you should follow good hygiene routines including washing your hands before and after any contact with your pet, their food and bedding.

If you have Covid-19, then ideally, you should restrict contact with pets and other animals ie no kissing, cuddling or stroking.

If you have sole responsibility of your cat with no help, then be sure to wash your hands before and after touching them.

If you’re concerned about your cat because they have respiratory or digestive problems and a temperature, you should contact your vet who will decide if they need to be tested or need any treatment.

If you and your household are healthy and do not have any coronavirus symptoms, your cat can continue to go outside if this is part of their usual daily routine.

If you have tested positive for coronavirus or have symptoms of the virus, the government is asking that you and your household self-isolate. Veterinary authorities in the UK are advising that cats in self-isolating households should be kept indoors for this time. This is because pet fur is just like any other surface that the virus can live on, and touching surfaces where the virus is present is one way in which the disease spreads among people.

If your cat usually has access to the outdoors, being asked to stay indoors will disrupt their daily routine. To keep your cat happy, there are ways you can ensure their natural instincts and behaviours can be met inside, including:

  • giving your cat safe access to climb up high
  • using treat balls to make dinnertime more interesting (here’s how to make them at home using bits and bobs you already have around the home)
  • playing games with your cat to keep them mentally stimulated (make this toy from a sock, or try making this wand)
  • making sure their litter tray is in a quiet place where they can go in private

Read our tips on how to help your cat with change.

If you are self-isolating and your cat needs urgent care always speak to your vet. They may be able to re-arrange your appointment or be happy for someone outside your household to bring them in for any examinations or treatment.

We will continue to update this advice as information changes. Keep checking back for the latest updates.

— Page last updated 14/06/2022