How does coronavirus ‘social distancing’ affect cat ownership?

‘Social distancing’ is a new buzz phrase. We are all told to do it. In round terms it means limiting social contact to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus. It means keeping 2 metres away from people and, in the UK, if you are over 70 staying at home for 4 months. There is no way I’ll do that.

How does 'social distancing' affect cat ownership?
How does ‘social distancing’ affect cat ownership? Collage by PoC.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

But if you are well and being sensible the coronavirus social distancing protocol should not change in any way how you interact with your cat or how you carry out your cat guardian responsibilities. I’d carry on as normal.

If you have contracted the disease or think you have, theoretically there should be no change either because the scientists say that cats and dogs can’t get the disease and therefore can’t transmit it to people or other companion animals.

However, as Covid-19 is a novel coronavirus disease (i.e. new and unknown) even the experts are feeling their way forward in providing advice. They are generally unsure about what to do and they are unsure about whether cats and dogs can get it. It’s almost certain that they can’t but not 100% certain. CDC in the US say that ‘We do not have evidence that…pets.. can spread Covid-19’. You see, they are being cautious. But they have no reports of companion animals getting Covid-19.

Therefore it is sensible to take precautions. They say you should restrict contact with companion animals in the same way that you should socially distance where possible with other people. Their advice is that you should limit contact with pets and ask other members of the family to care for companion animals while you are sick with Covid-19. I am not sure how practical that advice is but it’s the advice we have at present.

They also advise that Covid-19 sufferers should avoid petting, kissing and cuddling their companion animal. It seems that Covid-19 lasts about 14 days at maximum. I have heard of people getting over it in several days but check for yourself please. If it is fairly short lived in most cases it is probably practical to arrange for help in caring for your cat.

It is a bit of a worry because for single people living alone with their cat, the biggest difficulty after the possibility of dying is how it affects our cats. I am being flippant. No one below the age of 40 die of the disease according to Italian data. Personally, I feel that the whole affair is overhyped but that’s just me.

My immediate neighbours are vulnerable to it as they are elderly diabetics and they have ten cats. This makes things complicated. They have to live with an abundance of caution whereas I don’t feel that I have to. I am behaving more or less as normal.


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