You’re likely to have heard by now that a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19 a few weeks ago and that several additional tigers and lions at the zoo have since tested positive. It is presumed that they caught COVID-19 from a zookeeper. In addition to the big cat news, there are reports showing that some domestic cats appear to have contracted COVID-19 from their infected owners.
What we hope you have also heard – and what we encourage you to share widely – is that neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nor the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has seen any evidence to date that infected cats spread COVID-19 to humans.
World experts all agree: Cats can catch COVID-19 from people, not the reverse.
This point is important and worth repeating.
None of the global organizations tracking this issue have seen any evidence of humans becoming infected with COVID-19 from cats.
There is absolutely no reason for anyone to abandon their cats.
This is true whether or not you are infected with COVID-19. Alley Cat Allies is working hard to keep cats in their homes, safe and cared for, even in the event that their people become ill with COVID-19.
If you become infected with COVID-19 (or are suspected of being infected), you should distance yourself from your cat(s) until you are well to help prevent them from becoming ill. Our COVID-19 Guide: You & Your Pet Cat will help you prepare for quarantine and for the possibility that you might become ill with COVID-19 and need to have someone else take care of your cat(s). For people caring for community cats, please check out our COVID-19 Guide: Community Cat Caregivers.
We know many of you are very worried about the possibility of your cats becoming ill with COVID-19.
Research is underway to determine how easily transmitted COVID-19 is from humans to cats and how frequently cats experience symptoms. We are cautiously optimistic that the risks COVID-19 presents to cats are fairly limited. COVID-19 has now been infecting people around the world for over four months and we have yet to hear reports of cat fatalities despite the many thousands of ill people who live with cats.
Like many of you, we are also worried about violence and other negative consequences for cats as a result of misinformed, frightened people wrongly believing that cats spread COVID-19 to humans.
Our concern is shared by many veterinary professionals and by the OIE:
“The current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission. To date, there is no evidence that companion animals play a significant role in spreading the disease. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare.”
If you become aware of any cases in which people are harming or threatening to harm cats, please let us know. At Alley Cat Allies, we defend and protect all cats. It’s our job, passion and mission.
Humans shifting our behavior is the key to breaking the spread of the virus. Compassion toward fellow humans, to cats, and toward all living creatures is especially important in this time of stress and strain. So, go ahead and keep loving your cats!
Learn more about Alley Cat Allies’ Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response, and find all of our COVID-19 resources, at alleycat.org/Coronavirus.
Note: This is a rapidly evolving situation in which new information is continually becoming available. We will update this page across time.
Loving cats involves protecting cats from COVID-19, abandonment, and harm. If you have COVID-19 (or are suspected of having COVID-19), show your love for your cat by having someone else care for her until you are well. If you hear people spreading misinformation about cats, loving cats involves setting the record straight. Tell them that global health organizations say there is no evidence that cats spread COVID-19 to humans. Cats need and deserve our love, in times of crisis and always. If you learn of anyone who is harming or threatening to harm cats, please let us know. Protecting cats is our mission.