Many of you have probably read or heard about a few recent cases of COVID-19 infection in domestic cats, or a laboratory study that showed that cats can be experimentally infected with the coronavirus that is currently circulating in humans. Although cats are biologically susceptible to this virus, the risk of a cat getting infected is extremely small. Luckily, all of the infected cats have only had mild respiratory disease so far and there have been no feline fatalities. There is NO evidence that cats can spread the virus back to humans or to other cats within their household.
The primary way to protect your cats is to protect yourself by staying home as much as possible, washing your hands frequently, and covering your face when out in public. Keep cats protected from catching the virus from other people by keeping them indoors. If you become ill with COVID-19, protect your pets by excluding them from your bedroom, washing your hands before touching them or their food, and avoiding kissing them or getting them close to your face. Please refer to the CDC guidelines at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html. The CDC does NOT recommend re-homing your cats if you become ill. Please do not relinquish or abandon your cats due to fear of COVID-1 and please speak out strongly if you hear friends or acquaintances discussing this.
We also want to touch on the subject of cats and disinfectant. The COVID-19 virus is not thought to survive well on fur, so please do NOT attempt to disinfect your cats if someone else pets them or when they come back into the house from being outdoors or at our office. The risk of your cat carrying the virus home is very low. Any disinfectant on your cat's fur will end up being groomed off and swallowed and could cause serious illness. In particular, Lysol and its generic equivalents are very toxic to cats, so NEVER spray or wipe your cat with a disinfectant or put it on your cat's bedding. Bleach is also harmful and is not effective on fur anyway.
When your cat is in our care, we wear masks and wash our hands frequently, so we are taking precautions to protect your cat, you, and our fellow staff members. Please don't attempt to disinfect your cat's carrier while they are still in it. If you are concerned about the carrier bringing home viruses, feel free to wash or disinfect it as soon as you get home and release your cat back into the house, then wash your hands immediately.
Your cats should be a source of comfort during this uncertain time. Please take the simple precautions outlined by the CDC and enjoy their company without fear!
With our best wishes,
The Cat Doctor veterinarians and staff