Hi! I’m Dr. Crystal Heath, Berkeley Humane Veterinarian. Recently, nine felines in New York—two cats, five tigers, and two African lions—have tested positive for coronavirus, but the consensus among veterinarians is that we don’t have to worry about contracting it from our pets.
This may sound concerning, but it is important to know they were likely infected from an asymptomatic human staff member. All nine are now doing well.
The two new cats in New York are from separate households. Both showed mild respiratory signs, and are expected to fully recover. In one case, no clear source of the virus was found. They concluded that mildly ill or asymptomatic human members of the household or from an infected human who lived outside the household. In the other case, the cat came from a COVID-19 positive household.
The recommendations going forward are no different than earlier advice given.
We recommend that:
- If you are infected, limit contact between everyone (humans and non-humans.)
- If a member of your household is exposed, no matter what species, keep them inside the house with you.
- If you have to take your companion animal to a veterinarian or urgent care clinic, be sure to let them know if anyone in your family may have been exposed to novel coronavirus.
- If the non-human family members of your household practice physical distancing the same way human members do, there is basically no chance they will bring the virus into the household.
Though some are concerned about novel coronavirus being spread through our pets, the USDA released a statement stating that there is no evidence that companion animals play a role in spreading the virus. They are not recommending routine testing of animals.
Experts agree that you are more likely to acquire the virus from the human members of the household.
In fact, there are a bunch of reasons why companion animal roommates are preferable to human ones:
- You can easily prevent your pet from going outside and contacting other humans who have been shown to be a dangerous source of infection.
- Your pet will be happy with whatever you choose to watch on Netflix.
- What time you wake up or go to bed makes no difference to your pet, as long as they get fed and walked.
- Your pet won’t care if you squeeze the toothpaste from the middle or roll it from the bottom.
- That big pile of laundry will no longer cause household turmoil.
Everyone should relax, enjoy your time indoors with your furry, feathered or scaled friends. Remember, please stay away from humans: they spread all kinds of disease, not just COVID-19.
🙂 Thank you,