You may have heard on the news this morning advice to cat owners to keep their cats indoors. Please be assured that the advice to keep cats indoors is only for those cats currently in a household where someone is self-isolating with suspected Covid-19 and the cat is happy to be kept indoors. 

There is currently no advice to keep all cats indoors.  There is no evidence that pets can transmit Covid-19 to people, however pets could act as fomites, for example an infected person could transfer the virus onto the fur of the animal in exactly the same way that it can be transmitted by infected people handling other objects such as door handles.  This is the reasoning behind the advice that where a household has suspected or confirmed Covid-19 any cat from that household should be kept indoors if it is happy to do so.

The BVA has valuable advice on their website on all aspects of Covid-19 including pets in a suspected Covid-19 household.  Please see the BVA statement below regarding the news about keeping cats indoors:

The British Veterinary Association has clarified its position in light of a report on the BBC news website relating to cats and coronavirus. The headline of the article suggested that veterinary advice was to keep all cats indoors, but BVA has explained this advice is only in relation to cats in infected households or where people are self-isolating.

In response to questions from the BBC about general advice for pet owners, BVA had given information that related to both general advice and specific advice for those in infected households, but not made the distinction clear.

BVA President Daniella Dos Santos said:

“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.  

“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. Some cats cannot stay indoors due to stress-related medical reasons.

“There have been a tiny number of cases of Covid-19 in animals and in all cases, it is likely that the transmission was human to animal. There is no evidence that pets can pass Covid-19 to their owners.

“From the small number of cases it appears that dogs do not show symptoms, but cats can show clinical signs of the disease.

“It is also the case that animals can act as fomites, as the virus could be on their fur in the same way it is on other surfaces, such as tables and doorknobs. That’s why our main advice for pet owners continues to be to practise good hand hygiene.

“And, as a precaution, for pet owners who have Covid-19 or who are self-isolating we are recommending that you keep your cat indoors if possible, during that time.

“It is very important that people don’t panic about their pets. There is no evidence that animals can pass the disease to humans.”

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