NEWS AND VIEWS: US scientists say that if you have a cat and have tested positive for Covid-19 you should both self-isolate. This seems a very positive and quite strict directive and I’m getting this news from a British newspaperA. They go a step further. If a cat owner has to go to hospital, the researchers from Colorado State University say that the person who is looking after the cat should observe social distancing. In other words, the person caring for the cat should observe social distancing rules with respect to the cat. The self-isolation rule for cats won’t affect indoor cats quite obviously. And I would expect a very low acceptance of this rule by cat owners who allow their cats to go outside. Enforcement of these guidelines or rules is impossible so unless people want to do it, it won’t be done.
This is in contrast to the current rules regarding cats in the UK. The UK government website said that with respect to cats you should:
- Wash your hands before and after any contact with your cat, it’s food and bedding;
- Avoid close contact such as kissing or cuddling if you are self isolating and;
- Not share food with your pet.
There is no talk or discussion whatsoever about self-isolating and treating a cat as a person if the cat’s owner is known to have Covid-19.
There is certainly confusion surrounding cats and dogs in my opinion. However research has found that cats can contract the disease albeit with mild symptoms and they can transmit the disease to other cats. The general attitude from “experts” at the moment appears to be that there is no hard evidence that domestic cats can transmit the disease to people. However, the rules in America appear to counteract that attitude because they’re making a presumption that if a cat owner has a disease their cat might have it too and therefore their cat might spread the infection to other cats outdoors or wildlife and thence to people. The cat self-isolation guideline is all about an abundance of caution as the scientists like to describe it.
The scientists say that cats can shed the infectious virus for up to 5 days after contracting the disease. They also suggest that cats when infected deal with the virus more rapidly than humans. They say that cats clear the infection rapidly. It appears that they have a better immune system with respect to this particular virus.
Postscript: Covid-19 is a zoonotic disease. At least theoretically and I would argue practically it transmits both way between animals and people. That is the definition of a zoonotic disease. There are clear signs that the citizens of the UK and I would suspect the USA have become weary about compliance with coronavirus regulations. But to be effective they require the agreement of the citizens because it is impossible to enforce the rules across the nation. There simply isn’t the resources. If people become weary of them they will not follow them and therefore the rules become pointless. I strongly suspect that this advice coming out of Colorado State University is not going to be followed or treated with any seriousness. In the UK, about 20% of people going into shops do not wear face masks as directed by the government and under the law. These people are breaking the law. I’m told that 40% of shopkeepers also don’t wear face masks, once again breaking the law. My corner shop, where I buy my newspaper, is frequently occupied by people not wearing masks and the owners don’t wear them either.
Postscript 2: the restrictions placed upon people such as a lockdown simply suppresses the spread of the virus. It doesn’t get rid of it. So when governments ease back on lockdowns the virus returns. Therefore, you either lockdown the nation until there is an effective vaccine which will pretty well crash the economy or you remove the restrictions, allow people to use common sense in minimising the transmission of the disease and take your chances. This is, more or less, what Sweden did and are doing. It is gradually looking like the preferred method but politically in the UK it is impossible to instigate because the government has to be very cautious and if it went wrong that would be the end of this government.
A – Metro.co.uk