Cats and Ferrets May Catch Coronavirus Covid 19

Latest studies show that cats and ferrets may be more susceptible to coronavirus than we thought. Learn what precautions you need to take. 

 

ferret on bed

In our previous article on Coronavirus COVID 19 in Dogs, we mention how on April 5th 2020 a tiger at a zoo in the US tested positive to COVID 19 and a cat in Hong Kong tested positive on March 31st. This indicates that there is a small possibility that cats may be able to catch the coronavirus.

With this in mind, we thought we would focus on cats and ferrets in this article.

What Are The Details Of Positive Cases?

To date, two dogs and one cat in Hong Kong have tested positive to COVID 19. These 3 animals were in very close contact with owner’s who were sick with COVID 19.

We know that these animals did NOT become sick.
There is also no evidence to suggest that these animals could transmit the virus to humans or other animals.

Scientists assume that dogs may be a dead-end host.

There was a report of a cat in Belgium who was diagnosed with COVID 19.

However, with further investigation it appeared that the story of the Belgium Cat with COVID 19 was a mash-up of everything that could go wrong went wrong – kind of like fake news.

To begin with, the owner was sick with COVID 19.

Then, we discover that the owner collected the sample of the cat’s faeces themselves. The faeces showed signs of COVID 19.

Remember, the PCR test is looking for COVID 19 RNA (genetic material), what was found was likely contamination of the faeces by the owner’s own viral infection.

Finally, the cat didn’t die from COVID 19. Sadly, the cat was sick with a multitude of other problems that ultimately resulted in its death.

little girl holding cat with mum and dad kissing her

Experiments Show Cats and Ferrets Get COVID 19

It is important to remember that the study Susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs, and different domestic animals to SARS-coronavirus-2    was performed under experimental conditions.

This study also has NOT been peer-reviewed prior to publication, so the findings may not be scientifically correct.

We need to be extra-vigilant until we understand more about this virus – let me explain.

Back in the SARS days (2003+), experiments determined that cats and ferrets could become infected with SARS CoV-1 (Cats just shed the virus, while ferrets got sick too).

Because of this knowledge, scientists have been testing animals to see whether they too will prove to be a risk to humans with SARS CoV-2 ie. COVID 19.
Initial results indicate:

Ferrets:

An extremely high dose of the virus was inserted directly up into the ferret’s nose.

*** Experimentally infected ferrets got sick (fever, lethargy, cough)
*** Infected ferrets in direct contact with each other got sick, non-sick ferrets nearby didn’t get sick but they did become infected.

This means that if you own a ferret, you need to be extra vigilant if you catch COVID 19.

If you have COVID 19, then your ferret may also become infected and get sick just by being in contact with you.

Ideally, you need to keep away from your ferret as much as possible. Take extra care to ensure you are cleaning all equipment.

Wear a mask when food prepping and changing litter.

We don’t know if ferrets can transmit the virus to humans, so it is worthwhile keeping the ferret in quarantine with you.

If your ferret becomes sick it is vitally important to contact your vet for more specific advice. This will likely occur over a telemedicine consult to begin with. Treatment and whether the ferret needs to come to the vet clinic will be advised from there.

ferret

Cats:

Again, a large dose of the virus was inserted directly up into the cat’s nose.

*** Experimentally infected cats became infected and these cats also produced antibodies.
*** None of the infected cats became sick
*** Cats that hadn’t been given the virus, but who were in close contact (not in the same cage, but adjacent) became infected but not sick (developed antibodies).

This means that your cat (or a Tiger) may become infected with COVID 19 if you are sick.

They may not show any signs of being sick.

This means that if you are sick with COVID 19 you need to isolate yourself from your cat as much as possible as you would any other family member.

Dogs:

A large dose of COVID 19 virus was inserted into the nose of dogs.

*** Some dogs did not develop antibodies (they didn’t become infected), some did develop antibodies (they became infected)
*** No dog had signs of the live virus being present
*** There was no transmission between dogs that had been experimentally infected with dogs nearby that hadn’t been experimentally infected
*** No dogs became sick

This means that dogs don’t seem to be very sensitive to COVID 19, however, if you are infected, it is worthwhile keeping your distance from them and definitely keep them within your self-isolation household.

What Are The Current Recommendations For Pets: Cats, Dogs and Ferrets?

  1. If you have COVID 19 (you are infected) – you need to keep yourself away from other humans AND your pets as much as you can.
  2. If your pet has been exposed to someone with COVID 19, then you need to keep your pet confined to your house and try to minimise its contact with people outside your immediate ‘household bubble’.
  3. If someone in your household has COVID 19 and your pet has been exposed and the pet needs to see a vet, please advise the veterinarian and staff PRIOR to your consult so that they can be prepared and protect themselves. It is likely they will use a telemedicine consult to give initial advice.
  4. It is best not to let people outside your self-isolation household bubble to handle your pets. Yes, your pets are in your bubble with you! That means no cuddles from strangers and neighbours!

As always, if you have any questions ask away. And let your friends know the current situation.

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