Coronavirus could create concern for cat and ferret owners

By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer
In a phone interview on Monday, Dr. Kitzel Farrah with San Juan Veterinary Hospital explained that owners of cats and ferrets might have to take extra precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With this being such a real novel virus, we’re going to keep learning things about it at all times,” Farrah said. “There have been some studies recently that are showing that cats and ferrets can get infected with the virus.”
This information was released in a statement by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), which has yet to be peer-reviewed, Farrah noted.
“They are not a huge root of transmission to people. You don’t need to worry about that. You’re a lot more likely to get COVID from other people,” she said. “The concern that they are putting out for this is that if you have COVID-19, really you should be isolating yourself from people, but you should be isolating yourself from your pets, as well.”
However, Farrah noted that the World Health Organization, in a separate statement, explained that it did not believe that cats or ferrets played a role in the transmission of COVID-19, but they may be able to be infected from an infected person.
“What they are encouraging to us clients is, if you’re sick, isolate yourself from your animals. Cats or ferrets more so than dogs,” she said. “If a client is sick and their cat needs to come to the veterinarian, please inform us that they’re sick or if they’ve been exposed to COVID because we will take more precautions when we handle that cat.”
In a separate phone interview in March with The SUN, Farrah outlined a few tips on handling pets during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AVMA suggests that if anyone is sick with COVID-19 to “limit their handling” of pets.
It is recommended that someone in the household who is not sick handle the pet, Farrah added.
“If you’re well, don’t worry about it. Feed and handle your animal per normal,” she said.
However, if you are a single pet owner and you’ve contracted the virus, it is recommended that owners don’t sleep with their pets, she added later.

This story was posted on April 16, 2020.