Should cats be kept indoors during the lockdown? Official advice from British Veterinary Association explained

Wednesday, 8th April 2020, 12:26 pm
Updated Wednesday, 8th April 2020, 12:27 pm
This is what you need to know about keeping your cat indoors during the lockdown (Photo: Shutterstock)
This is what you need to know about keeping your cat indoors during the lockdown (Photo: Shutterstock)

As the lockdown continues to affect everyone across the UK, the official advice regarding keeping cats indoors has left pet owners confused.

Should cats be kept inside during the lockdown? Can they pass on the virus to humans? This is everything you need to know.

Should I be keeping my cat indoors during the lockdown?

A tweet from the British Veterinary Association said, “Contrary to some news reports this morning, we’re NOT advising that all cats be kept indoors during the #COVID19 pandemic.

“Only cats from infected or self-isolating households should be kept indoors as a precaution, if possible.”

BVA President Daniella Dos Santos added, “We are not advising that all cats be 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.”

At the end of the statement, the BVA President urged, “It is very important that people don’t panic about their pets.”

Can pets pass the virus on to humans?

Talking to the BBC, Dr Angel Almendros from the City University in Hong Kong, said, “There isn’t a single case of a pet dog or cat infecting a human with Covid-19.”

While there have been cases of animals testing positive for the virus, research shows that the virus may be passed from cat to cat, but not cat to human.

Santos said, “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.”

The PDSA has also made a similar statement, saying, “The virus is most commonly passed from person to person through coughing and sneezing.

“There is evidence that the virus can live on surfaces for some time, depending on the type of material, temperature and other factors. This could include your pets fur, so if you are showing any symptoms it’s important to minimise contact with your pet as much as possible.”

What should I do if my cat shows signs of sickness?

The statement from the BVA President said, “From the small number of cases, it appears that dogs do not show symptoms, but cats can show clinical signs of the disease.”

If you think your cat is showing signs of illness, the PDSA advises calling your usual vet.

“They will advise you on the best course of action based on your circumstances, but please be aware that most vet practices will be operating very differently from usual,” the PDSA says.

Coronavirus: the facts

What is coronavirus?

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that can affect lungs and airways. It is caused by a virus called coronavirus.

What caused coronavirus?

The outbreak started in Wuhan in China in December 2019 and it is thought that the virus, like others of its kind, has come from animals.

How is it spread?

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread. But, similar viruses are spread in cough droplets. Therefore, covering your nose and mouth when sneezing and coughing, and disposing of used tissues straight away is advised. Viruses like coronavirus cannot live outside the body for very long.

What are the symptoms?

The NHS states that the symptoms are: a dry cough, high temperature and shortness of breath - but these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness. Look out for flu-like symptoms, such as aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose and a sore throat. It’s important to remember that some people may become infected but won’t develop any symptoms or feel unwell.

What precautions can be taken?

Washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly. The NHS also advises to cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze; put used tissues in the bin immediately and try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell. Also avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

Government advice

As of Monday 23 March the prime minister has put the UK into lockdown and instructed all citizens to stay at home. People can only leave their homes to exercise once a day, go shopping for food and medication, travel for medical needs or to care for a vulnerable person, and travel to work only if essential. Police will be able to enforce these restrictions.All non-essential shops will close with immediate effect, as will playgrounds, places of worship and libraries. Large events or gatherings of more than two people cannot go ahead, including weddings and celebrations. Funerals can only be attended by immediate family.Children of separated parents can go between both parents' homes.

Anyone with a cough or cold symptoms needs to self-isolate with their entire household for 14 days.

The government has now instructed bars, restaurants, theatres and non-essential businesses to close and will review on a ‘month to month’ basis. Schools closed from Friday 20 March for the foreseeable future, and exams have been cancelled.

The over 70s or anyone who is vulnerable or living with an underlying illness are being asked to be extra careful and stay at home to self-isolate. People with serious underlying health conditions will be contacted and strongly advised to undertake "shielding" for 12 weeks.For more information on government advice, please check their website. 

Should I avoid public places?

You should now avoid public places and any non-essential travel. Travel abroad is also being advised against for the next 30 days at least, and many European countries have closed their borders.

What should I do if I feel unwell?

Don’t go to your GP but instead look online at the coronavirus service that can tell you if you need medical help and what to do next.Only call 111 if you cannot get help online.

When to call NHS 111

Only call NHS 111 if you can’t get help online and feel very unwell. This should be used if you feel extremely ill with coronavirus symptoms. If you have been in a country with a high risk of coronavirus in the last 14 days or if you have been in close contact with someone with the virus please use the online service.

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