Coronavirus is a name used to describe an infection produced by several strains of this virus; however, distinct coronaviruses affect different animal species. It's critical to understand the many types of coronavirus that cats might contract and what you can do to keep your cat safe.
Is Feline Coronavirus Contagious to People (and Vice Versa)?
The coronavirus that causes respiratory problems in humans is not the same as the coronavirus that causes respiratory problems in cats. There are several distinct strains of the virus, and little is known about how the human respiratory coronavirus affects cats (SARS-CoV-2, formerly called 2019-nCoV that causes COVID-19). IDEXX, a large veterinary laboratory, claimed in April 2020 that it has examined more than 5,000 specimens from cats, dogs, and horses with respiratory symptoms in 17 countries for the COVID-19 virus and found no positive findings. IDEXX believes that, with the exception of rare and isolated occurrences, dogs and cats living with sick people remain unaffected.
COVID-19 can be contracted by cats from their owners, however the few cats that have tested positive have been asymptomatic or had minimal symptoms. There is also no proof that cats may transfer the disease to humans, only to other cats, and a cat testing positive in general is quite unusual. Because so little is known about this virus and how it affects cats and other pets, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that if you are infected with COVID-19, you should avoid or minimize contact with your pets until more information is available.
COVID-19 and Animals
Although some animals have tested positive for COVID-19, the virus does not appear to have had a significant impact on animals. COVID-19 transmission from animals to humans is thought to be minimal.
- A tiger and a lion in New York, April 2020
- Two domestic cats in New York, April 2020
- A dog in North Carolina, April/May 2020
- Two dogs in Hong Kong, March 2020
- A cat in Belgium, March 2020
- Two mink farms in The Netherlands, April 2020
- Two domestic cats in France, May 2020
- A domestic cat in Spain, May 2020
- A domestic cat in Germany, May 2020
- A dog and a cat in The Netherlands, May 2020
- A cat in Russia, May 2020
Some of these animals did become sick. Most are believed to have contracted the virus from infected humans. To date, there is no evidence that animals can spread COVID19 to humans.
What Is Coronavirus in Cats?
Feline coronavirus (FCoV) is a virus that causes diarrhea in cats and can possibly develop to feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), a more serious condition. The feline coronavirus is a dangerous virus because it can cause FIP.
If it isn't the type linked with FIP, feline coronavirus can produce severe diarrhea in cats, although it is usually a very mild version.
However, cats with the feline coronavirus variant that causes FIP have more severe symptoms. Any cat that isn't feeling well may see a drop in activity and appetite, and if left untreated, a cat with coronavirus will lose weight and vomit. FIP may induce fluid accumulation in the belly and chest, thus a cat with a wet form of the disease will have a swollen abdomen and may have trouble breathing. Finally, if FIP from a coronavirus has caused organ damage, skin and eye yellowing may develop if the liver is damaged, and thirst and urine may rise if the kidneys are impacted.
Causes of Coronavirus in Cats
Different types of feline coronavirus may cause this sickness in cats, and experts aren't sure exactly how it spreads. They know it spreads from cat to cat, but it might travel through feces, saliva, or even urine, making it extremely infectious among cats.
Diagnosing Coronavirus in Cats
A fecal sample will be collected after a veterinarian obtains a complete medical history and does a physical examination on your cat to check for parasites, bacterial and toxin overgrowth, and other microscopic causes of diarrhea.
If the condition is serious enough, blood tests and X-rays may be used to rule out other diseases and search for abnormalities that might suggest the cat has FIP. If the FIP version of coronavirus is suspected and there is a lot of fluid in a cat's belly or chest, a sample of the fluid can be taken and tested for FIP. Overall, reliable test findings and the difficulty to distinguish between different strains of coronavirus that will or will not cause FIP make a definite diagnosis of coronavirus challenging. As a result, diagnosis is usually established primarily on the symptoms of the cat.
Treatment of Coronavirus in Cats
Coronavirus that causes diarrhea is readily treated with drugs and nutrients to firm up the stool, while coronavirus that causes FIP is more difficult to treat. Because FIP has no cure, symptoms are controlled as long as the cat's quality of life is excellent.
How to Prevent Coronavirus in Cats
Because coronavirus is very infectious in cats, it is critical to keep your cats away from infected cats. If your cat has coronavirus, you should wait until it has died before bringing in any new cats and dispose of anything the cat used, including litter boxes, before acquiring a new one. Because no one understands how the virus spreads, it can be difficult to eradicate it from an area, especially if numerous cats have it.
FIP vaccination is available for cats, however its usage and efficacy are debatable. Consult your veterinarian about the benefits and drawbacks of this immunization.