An unexpected outbreak of the Coronavirus has been drawing worldwide concern as a global public health risk. Last year in Dec 2019, the infestation was first reported in the Wuhan city of China, and from there, it is now affecting thousands of people from all around the globe.
To date, there are around 472,529 cases that have been reported, and sadly 21,304 are the number of people who died because of this dangerous disease, and the numbers are still increasing!! This virus widely spreads through person to person, and currently, there is no evidence that it can be spread through animals to humans. But in the past, there were cases reported for the coronavirus in cats.
So if your pet is behaving differently or has been sick for days and you are in doubt whether your cat has it or not, read this blog. Because here we are not only giving detailed information on cat coronavirus but also providing the guidelines and precautions that you should take to evade it.
What is Feline Coronavirus?
FCoV or Feline coronavirus is a viral infection in cats. This positive-stranded RNA virus belongs to the Coronaviridae virus family. This virus can occur in two forms – FECV (feline enteric coronavirus) and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).
In the further paras, we’re going to provide all the information about both the types, including their symptoms and cure, so keep on reading.
What is Feline Enteric Coronavirus (FECV)?
FECV is generally defined as the “ubiquitous enteric biotype,” which is responsible for the infection of mature gastrointestinal epithelial cells. It is basically an intestinal infection that causes mild diarrhea.
Normally cats have a resistant system to avoid this virus, but those who have a low immune system or newborn kittens are at high risk of getting an FECV. But if your cat has this infection for a long duration, then it may turn into fatal disease- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).
What is Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus (FIPV)?
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a “virulent biotype,” a viral disease that can be widely seen in wild and domestic cats. This virus mainly attacks the cells of the intestinal wall, which is very harmful to them.
Cat Coronavirus Symptoms
Now, you know what is a feline coronavirus and its types, but what are the symptoms by which you can identify whether your cat has it or not? Below are some signs and symptoms that may be the sign of Feline coronavirus.
- Weight loss
- Fluid in the chest
- Excessive thirst and urination
- Poor appetite
- Gradual swelling of the abdomen (potbellied appearance)
- Accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity
- Difficulty breathing
- Sneezing, runny nose
How FPI is Diagnosed?
Some laboratories claim that they have facilities and equipment to diagnose FPI. But still, it is quite challenging to find out whether a cat has a normal intestinal coronavirus or the deadly FIP coronavirus.
There is actually no proper way to diagnose this, but your veterinarian may check by the number of white blood cells. By an ELISHA or IFA test, the doctor can find whether your cat has the coronavirus antibodies or not.
A more profound diagnosis process is required to determine and understand whether your cat has a coronavirus or not. Usually, doctors take a sample of fluid from an abdominal or thoracic cavity, and in some cases, abdominal surgery is required for further diagnosis & evaluation.
How to Treat Feline Coronavirus?
Don’t worry as FIP among cats is very rare. The mortality rate of this virus is one in 5000. But if you notice the above symptoms in your beloved cat, immediately visit the nearest vet.
The main concern about this disease is that the virus first lies in the cat’s body dormant for months, and later on, they transform into FIP. Not only do they infect the white blood cells, but they also use them as transportation to invade the complete body. To stop the spreading of the virus, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and immunosuppressive are given to the cat. This disease is challenging to treat, and actually, there is no treatment to cure FIP.
Can Cats Spread Coronavirus to Humans?
No, cats don’t spread this virus to humans. Till now, no cases have been recorded. In Feb, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said, “At present, the AFCD does not have evidence that pet animals can be infected with COVID-19 virus or can be a source of infection to people.“
Also, the New York State Veterinary Medical Society declares in a pamphlet, “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread the coronavirus.”
Here are some guidelines by WHO (WOrld health organization) that you should follow to avoid coronavirus:
- Wash your hands frequently with alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.
- Cover your mouth while sneezing and coughing.
- As we touch many surfaces, there are high chances of catching the virus. So avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes and always wash your hands before & after touching your pet or any other animal.
- Avoid visiting the pet cafes, animal market, and animal product markets and also do not take your pet to any of these places.
- If you have more than one pet, then do not let them share their food.
What to do if your Cat has a Coronavirus?
If you think that your pet has an unexpected illness or has been exposed to a person with COVID-19, then you should immediately talk to the public health officials. Do the things told by the public health veterinarians.
The World Health Organisation issued updated information on Thursday 13 March saying, “at present, there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected with the new coronavirus.” But still, it is good to follow the rules and isolate them from other people and animals to avoid any type of infection. And if you think that your cat has coronavirus, don’t panic, contact the nearest public veterinarian for a checkup. And just follow the above procedures and things to keep them safe.
For more information about pet health and behavior, visit Petsnurturing.