Black kitten with toy

Coronavirus in cats

Until further tests are carried out, there is no current evidence that cats can be infected with the new coronavirus or be carriers of the virus. 

It is always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water after stroking your pets for protection against other bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella.

What is coronavirus?

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, though the exact source of this strain is still under investigation.

The most common human symptoms are a high temperature and a continuous cough. This virus can cause pneumonia, coughing, fever and difficulty with breathing and, in extreme cases, death. If you think you may have coronavirus, follow the latest advice found on the NHS website.

Covid-19 is a coronavirus that is affecting humans. Cats can suffer from the often-fatal feline infectious peritonitis, which is caused by feline coronavirus, however this is not the same strain of the illness that is causing the current global human epidemic.

Is it safe to put cats in a cattery?

There is no current evidence that pets or companion animals can be infected with the new coronavirus or be carriers of the virus.  A cattery should make sure their pens are always kept clean and hygienic. Normal handwashing precautions must always be observed.

When considering a cattery, please be mindful of your cat’s personality too. It’s always better to get a cat sitter, a member of the family or a friend to look after your cat in your own home.

Can my cat go outside?

If your cat usually goes outside, their daily routine needs to stay the same. There is no current evidence that cats can catch Covid-19 or that they can spread it, so they can continue to enjoy the great outdoors.

I have an indoor cat, how can I reduce the risk of coronavirus?

Coronavirus is not currently known to be a risk to cats. However, it’s good practice to keep your cat’s food and litter areas clean. Keeping your cat mentally stimulated will keep active minds busy, too.

Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before and after handling your cat too – this helps keep the spread of bacteria to a minimum.

How to protect your cat from coronavirus

If you have Covid-19 then, ideally, you’ll restrict contact with your cat ie no kissing, cuddling or stroking. Although there is no current evidence that pets can get the virus, the situation is still evolving, so it’s better to be safe.
If you have sole responsibility of your cat with no help, then be sure to wash your hands before and after handling them and wear a facemask.

Can I still take my cat to the vet?

While veterinary practices can remain open under new government rules to limit the spread of coronavirus, animals should only be seen in emergencies. Routine appointments have been put on hold, with online or phone consultation services being offered by many vets instead. 

If you think your pet needs to be seen as an emergency case, contact your vet. Social distancing rules continue to apply in urgent fact-to-face appointments, which includes limiting the number of owners present for the consultation. Policies between veterinary practices may vary.

Can I still get the medication my cat needs?

Urgent medication and treatments for your pet may be prescribed through remote consultations while strict social distancing measures are in place. Your vet will advise you how you can collect the supplies, as procedures vary between practices.

My cat’s vaccinations have expired, what do I do?

If your pet is due to have their boosters or first inoculations, consult your vet to see if this can be postponed. If your pet is unvaccinated, has had an incomplete primary course or is out of date for their booster they may not be fully protected so should be kept away from public areas. If your cat is affected by this, take a look at ideas for indoor play and exercise

What measures are in place for euthanasia of pets?

The decision to euthanise your pet can be an extremely difficult one to make, and your vet will continue to do everything they can to guide you through this sad process. Social distancing measures must still apply to appointments in which pets are put to sleep, to keep both vet and owner safe. Your vet will be able to advise you on how these policies are being implemented at your practice. Our Pet Bereavement Support Service remains open to calls and emails, so please do get in touch if you need help coming to terms with pet loss at this difficult time.

We will be updating this advice as more information becomes available.

— Page last updated 26/03/2020

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