Friday, July 2, 2021

Cats and dogs often catch Covid when their owners are infected

The word "often" in the title is a bit startling. It was known that cats can get the disease from their owners but until recently it seems we did not know how common this was. But now we do because according to research at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, six cats and seven dogs tested positive for the disease and 54 pets were found to have antibodies to the disease out of a total of 310 pets tested in 196 households. 54 pets out of a total of 310 is 17%. The research indicates that 17% of cats and dogs get the disease from their owners if their owners have suffered from the disease.

Cats can get Covid from their owners in bed
Cats can get Covid from their owners in bed. Photo: Photo: crisisangels, via lorenzens-soil.

This I think is useful information. It indicates that, as stated, it is quite common for owners to transmit the disease to their cats and dogs. It makes you wonder whether the virus might become a reservoir in those companion animals and pass it to visitors to the owners' homes. I'm sure this is being considered by scientists.

Disappointingly, the director of the University's Veterinary Microbiological Diagnostic Centre said that the purpose of the research was to protect people not the animals. He said that humans rather than pet health was the main concern for the researchers. I don't like that. I wouldn't like that because I'm an animal advocate. I can't see why he can't be equally concerned that animals and people. What is wrong in saying that?

He did go on to say that "if you have Covid, you should avoid contact with your cat or dog, just as you would with other people". This is not going to happen. One reason is because people just don't keep up-to-date with research on Covid such as the research I'm referring to here. Another reason is that people cannot stay away from their cats and dogs because they are too important to them.

The good thing, as mentioned in earlier articles is that pets tend to be asymptomatic or at worst, they display very mild Covid symptoms. And all the research points to the transmission of disease from people to people and people to animals but not animals to people. Although, I suspect that when further research is done on that they will discover that companion animals transmit the disease to people. Watch this space.

The researchers say that, "We can't say there is a 0% risk of owners catching Covid from their pets. At the moment the pandemic is still driven by human-to-human infections, so we just wouldn't detect it."

The research also found that when pets sleep on the bed of their owners, they are more likely to catch the virus from their owners. It might work in the other direction as well. A lot of people let their cats sleep with them at night as I do. I don't think this information will change their habits. Those that don't allow it will be reinforced by this information.

Dorothee Bienzle, a professor of veterinary pathology at the University of Guelph said tellingly, "If someone has Covid-19 there is a surprisingly high chance they will pass it on to their pet. Cats, especially those that sleep on their owner's bed seem to be particularly vulnerable."

She recommends people keep away from their pets! It won't happen so don't bother to mention it.

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