Should We Keep Our Cats Inside? It Depends On Where You Live.

England loves Larry the Cat, the official “chief mouser” charged with keeping the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street vermin-free. But the 13-year-old rescued cats’ unfettered lifestyle – which includes roaming freely inside and outside the house, where he’s regularly petted by guests, guards and strangers – has drawn extra scrutiny now that Larry’s current patron, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is in the hospital battling COVID-19.

Now UK veterinarians are warning anybody sick with COVID-19 to keep their outdoor cats inside, according to CNN.

“For pet owners who have Covid-19 or who are self-isolating we are recommending that you keep your cat indoors if possible, during that time,” the British Veterinary Association said in a statement. “The virus could be on their fur in the same way it is on other surfaces, such as tables and doorknobs.”

But American experts generally disagree people are likely to catch COVID-19 this way. “In theory, if a patient with a virus in their nose rubbed their nose and got a bunch of virus on their hand and then petted their dog … and then another family member petted that dog in the exact same place and then rubbed their nose, maybe they could transmit it,” a Pittsburgh-based specialist of pediatric infectious diseases, Dr. John Williams, told CNN. “But if you’re living in a home with a person who has the virus, the risk factor is that human, not the pets.”

The American Veterinary Medical Association believes the bigger risk is of pet owners becoming so sick that they could no longer properly care for their animals during the pandemic. This is why rescuers suggest having multiple caregivers who can assume pet-sitting duties should you fall ill.

“It is important to remember that there is currently no reason at this time to think that domestic animals, including pets, in the United States might be a source of infection with SARS-CoV-2,” the American Veterinary Medical Association wrote on its website.

“Accordingly, there is no reason to remove pets from homes where COVID-19 has been identified in members of the household, unless there is risk that the pet itself is not able to be cared for appropriately,” AVMA concluded. “In this emergency, pets and people each need the support of the other and veterinarians are there to support the good health of both.”

We couldn’t agree more!

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J. Swanson is a writer, traveler, and animal-enthusiast based in Seattle, an appropriately pet-crazed city where dog or cat ownership even outweighs the number of kids. When the weather permits, she likes to get outside and explore the rest of the Pacific Northwest, always with a coffee in hand.
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