Animal lovers who are displaying COVID-19 symptoms have been urged not to cuddle their cat.
The warning comes after a cat became the first animal in the UK to test positive for coronavirus.
It’s thought the owner – who also tested positive for the virus – passed it onto the animal.
Both have since recovered.
Reporting live from the lab in Surrey where the cat’s sample was tested, Good Morning Britain‘s Richard Gaisford urged Brits to “look at the bigger picture”.
He said: “There have been six million positive coronavirus tests for humans compared to 20, just a handful, in animals.”
However, he added: “Cats, it seems, are perhaps more prone.”
During testing, scientists saw there was an exact match between a strain of COVID-19 the owner had and the one the cat also had.
If you have a particularly affectionate cat or dog who likes to snuggle up to you, maybe reconsider.
While the cat is the first animal to test positive in the UK, one has previously tested positive in France.
How do cats contract coronavirus?
“When cats are touched by someone with coronavirus then lick their fur when cleaning, that’s how they contract it,” Gaisford said.
“If you have COVID symptoms and own a cat, keep our hands extra specially clean around them and, if you’re touching someone else’s cat, wash your hands afterwards,” he added.
However, cases are “very rare” and Brits have been urged not to “panic” by the president of the British Veterinary Association, Daniella Dos Santos.
Cat owners shouldn’t “panic”
Daniella added: “This really isn’t a cause for alarm, we don’t want people to panic.”
Ben asked: “If an owner suspects they have symptoms for COVID-19, what advice are you giving them?”
“Make sure you’re practising good hygiene, hand washing, catching coughs and sneezes with tissues and putting them in the bin and minimising contact with your pets as much as possible,” Daniella said.
“Of course you still need to feed your pets, but wash your hands before and after,” she said.
“Reconsider” close contact
“If you have a particularly affectionate cat or dog who likes to snuggle up to you, maybe reconsider because it is all about that close contact,” she confirmed.
Kate then asked if you could catch coronavirus from your cat if someone who has the virus has stroked them.
“We don’t have the evidence to prove whether or not that’s possible,” Daniella confirmed, “but in theory they could act as surfaces.”
For pet owners who are worried, all of the animals involved have made full recoveries.
Daniella added: “Not all have showed symptoms and those who have have been very mild.”
What should I look out for?
Coronavirus symptoms in cats include respiratory problems and nasal discharge.
Daniella concluded: “Contact your vet via the phone if you’re worried and they will advise.”
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