Coronavirus in cats specifically, the Feline coronavirus (FCoV), is a viral disease under the family – coronaviridae causes cats to have diarrhea, but it can also result in a more severe infection called the feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). Own a dog? check this.
Other strains of coronavirus that can infect cats include;
- The Feline Enteric Coronavirus (FeCV): Infected cats with FeCV are usually asymptomatic during the early stage, but they may sometimes experience short-lived diarrhea and/or mild upper respiratory symptoms which they usually recuperate immediately.
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP): This is a viral infection in cats that is caused by a kind of virus strains known as the feline coronavirus. This particular strain is quite severe and totally threatens the wellbeing of the cat.
The feline coronavirus comes in different strains, and some of them are found in the intestinal tracts in cats, but they do not affect them significantly.
Because of the risk for developing FIP, the feline coronavirus demands early intervention, or else it will lead to the development of feline infectious peritonitis, which is more severe.
Coronavirus is a family of viruses that may cause some disease to their hosts that they have infected attacking specific parts, causing distinct symptoms as they are designed to.
This virus, when viewed under a microscope, look like they have spikes sticking out on their surfaces, making them look like little crowns. Thus, the name “corona.”
In humans, coronavirus attacks the respiratory tracts causing the host to fall sick suffering from respiratory tract infections, which could manifest mild or severe symptoms. But the signs and symptoms in other animal species may vary according to the type of virus the host is susceptible to.
For instance, pigs suffer diarrhea as signs of being infected by a specific kind of coronavirus as well as cattle, while chickens suffer upper respiratory tract infections when infected.
Coronavirus is a viral infection caused by various distinct strains of this type of virus affecting different animal species. It’s best to know what type of coronavirus a cat can get and what you can do to keep your cat safe and fit.
Note: Coronaviruses that were known to affect other animal species have evolved to infect humans as well; Hence, the new human coronaviruses – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Covid-19.
Are humans safe from Feline Coronavirus Contagious and vice versa?
As explained above, coronavirus is a family of viruses of different strains that affect different species in the kingdom Animalia.
The question now is: Can humans get infected by feline coronavirus? And are cats in danger of getting infected with human coronavirus?.
Feline coronavirus may be a part of the large family of Coronavirus, but it is never the same type of coronavirus with the coronavirus that affects respiratory systems in human beings. This is because there are several distinct strains of this virus, and so many are still not known.
Humans have not been able to test positive to feline Coronavirus yet but cats may able or not be infected by the human coronaviruses (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and the latest virus which happens to be a pandemic in our world today – COVID-19).
A research was conducted to confirm this, and about 3500 domesticated animals made up of cats, dogs, and horses were tested for COVID-19, and they came back negative, but further tests and research carried out with limited samples suggested that cats may be at risk of getting infected with COVID-19.
They might contract COVID-19 from their infected pet owners, but only small numbers tested for COVID-19 tested positive to the virus and have either been asymptomatic or exhibit the symptoms mildly.
It can not be proven that cats can transmit the infection to humans. It is true that cats can transmit only to their fellow cats, but in general, it is quite rare to have a cat test positive to COVID-19.
So much is to be discovered and learned about this virus including; how it may infect cats along with other domesticated animals, therefore, it is recommended that as a pet owner if you are infected with COVID-19, you are to limit direct contacts with pets to avoid possibly getting them infected in the meantime until this virus is more understood.
Remember, there is no vaccine for the virus yet.
Symptoms of Coronavirus in Cats
These are symptoms of feline coronavirus in cats, and they include:
- Lethargy: Decrease in the cat’s activeness
- Bloated abdomen: This is when there is fluid accumulation in the abdomen.
- Lack of appetite: This when the cat refuses to eat as much as it uses to or it does not want to eat at all.
- Increased thirst: This is a later effect of the infection. This occurs when the kidneys have been severely affected.
- Increased urination: Following the effect of the infection on the kidneys. The cat will experience having to urinate many times than usual.
- Diarrhea: This is one of the primary symptoms of this infection. The cat will experience the urge (could be mild or severe) to defecate, and the stool passed are more liquid than usual.
- Weight loss: This when the cat has not been checked and treated after showing the symptoms of being unwell. The cat is bound to lose quite a lot of weight.
- Yellowing of the skin and the eyes: This only occur when the liver is profoundly affected.
- Vomiting: This is one of the first signs the infected cat experiences.
- Difficulty breathing: If this infection makes the cat have a bloated abdomen. It is bound to have difficulties in breathing.
Sometimes, cats infected with feline coronavirus may experience severe diarrhea, but in reality, diarrhea is often mild. So as long as it has not developed into Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).
When the cat starts feeling unwell with symptoms like lack of activeness and appetite, showing that the cat needs to be checked and treated, but if it’s left untreated, the cat may start to vomit and lose weight.
When the strains of the virus have developed into Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) can result in the cat having a bloated abdomen; this is when cause the virus causes fluid to accumulate in the thorax and the stomach.
Therefore if this strain of virus causes a wet form of this infection, the cat will surely have its abdomen bloated resulting in difficulty breathing.
The Feline Infectious Peritonitis can go as far as damaging an organ if left untreated; this can be evident in the yellowing of the eyes and the skin, proving that the liver has been severely affected.
In addition to this, there may be increased thirst and urination in cats proving that the kidneys have been affected as well.
Causes of Coronavirus in Cats
There are different strains of feline coronavirus, and each strain is distinct from each other, causing this disease in cats.
Although scientists bare yet to know the exact route by which this transmits but it is known that this can be transmitted from cat to cat contact, infected feces, saliva, and urine.
And because it is highly infectious between cats, that is why the above route is believed to be the route of transmission by many researchers.
Diagnose of Coronavirus in Cats
In diagnosing Coronavirus in cats, the veterinarian will have to do the following:
- Evaluate the medical history of the cat
- Getting the cat physically examined
- Fecal samples are collected to be tested for bacteria, toxins and parasites overgrowth, and other microscopic organisms that may cause the cat to have diarrhea. This helps the veterinarian to rule out possible causative agents which will help narrow things down to what it really is.
- More tests such as; Blood tests and X-rays may be needed to be carried out, that is, if the infection is severe enough to cancel out every other infection and focus on changes that may suggest the cat has Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).
If Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is being suspected and the abdomen of the cat looks so bloated due to the accumulation of fluid in the cats’ chest and abdomen, a special test is required to run on the cat to confirm Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).
This is done by collecting a sample of the fluid accumulation in the cat’s chest and abdomen, and the sample goes through a special test to confirm FIP.
Generally, it is quite challenging to get a specific coronavirus diagnosis due to the inability to accurately differentiate between the distinct strains of coronavirus that either may or may not lead to it developing into FIP.
Because of this reason, diagnosis is now made on the basis of the cat’s symptoms.
Treatment of Coronavirus in Cats
Feline Coronavirus that causes diarrhea and other symptoms can simply be treated symptomatically. That is administering medications to treat diarrhea; this makes the stool to harden a little.
Unfortunately, Feline Infectious Peritonitis is not easy to treat. This infection has no cure, but it can be managed by tackling the symptoms for as long as the life of the cat is still okay.
Preventing Coronavirus in Cats
“Best safe than sorry.” “Prevention is better than cure.” These quotes are not to be messed around with because it is very applicable and advised.
Well, knowing that this feline coronavirus affecting cats is highly infectious, it is very vital to keep your cats away from possibly infected cats, faces, urine, and saliva. Again If you have an infected cat, it is advised to keep the infected cat away from other cats to avoid spreading this disease.
In this case, you are also advised to avoid bringing in new cats that may be infected by your already infected cat and until the already infected cat has died, buried, and dispose of all the things that affected cat has used. Most importantly, the litter box which may still contain the virus, considering that the cat may have passed it out while stilling.
You are advised to get a new one that is free from the virus to avoid infecting the new cat, although it will be quite difficult to rid the environment of the virus because the exact route of transmission is unknown.
Gladly, There is a vaccine available for Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) only for cats, but you need to discuss with your veterinarian what the vaccine is all about; how it works, the pros and cons, the effectiveness and the use.
Are you a cat owner? Has your cat tested positive to coronavirus? What method of prevention did you adopt? Are there tips or suggestions you would like to share concerning this topic? Kindly do so in the comments below.