• Experts advise coronavirus-infected households to keep their pet cats indoors
  • Not all cats have to be kept indoors
  • There is so far no evidence that pets can pass COVID-19 to humans

Experts are urging pet cat owners to keep their pets indoors if someone in their household has been affected by the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) released a statement advising cat owners who have symptoms of COVID-19 to try to keep their pet cats indoors. Evidently, an earlier story had suggested that the veterinary's advice was to keep all cats indoors but the expert advice is apparently only for pet cats in infected households or where people are self-isolating.

"It’s incredibly important that information and advice for the public is clear and we regret that this story will have caused worry and upset amongst cat owners," BVA President Daniella Dos Santos said .

According to Dos Santos, in the small number of cases of COVID-19 in animals, it is likely that the transmission was from human to pet. There is so far no evidence that animals can transmit the virus to humans but, it is still possible for animals to act as “fomites,” which means that the virus can stay on their fur and be transmitted through touch in the same way that the virus can be transmitted by touching surfaces such as doorknobs.

As such, it is important to maintain good hand hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus and, if possible, to keep cats from infected households from going outside. That said, Dos Santos did note that some cats cannot stay indoors due to stress-related medical reasons.

"We are not advising that all cats are kept indoors. Only cats from infected households or where their owners are self-isolating, and only if the cat is happy to be kept indoors," Dos Santos said. "It is very important that people don't panic about their pets. There is no evidence that animals can pass the disease to humans."

Similarly, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) also recently advised people whose households have been affected by the coronavirus to keep their pets indoors and to minimize contact with their pets.

"If you are sick, treat your pet as you would another member of the household. Do not kiss, stroke or sneeze on them," AVA President Dr. Julia Crawford said according to ABC "Your pet is part of your family. There is nothing to suggest it will harm you. Giving up your cat or dog because of COVID-19 is not a reasonable thing to do."

Again, there is so far no evidence that pet animals can be a source of COVID-19 for humans. Even in Hong Kong where a pet cat had previously tested positive for COVID-19, authorities still noted "no evidence" that pet animals can be a source of COVID-19.

Pet Cats
This is a representational image of two cats. Pixabay