Are you living in quarantine because of the rapid global spread of COVID-19? That means that your household pets are forced to be inside with you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not have any evidence that household pets could receive or transmit COVID-19.
There was only one global case where a 17-year old dog in Hong Kong had received and recovered from the virus. The day after he returned home to his female owner that had also tested positive and recovered, he died. The CDC implores that a pet owner who is sick (not just with the virus) not interact with their household pets.
Then on April 22, the CDC received the call that two cats in New York were positively tested and confirmed to have the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19!
On the CDC website, they reported that the cats were from different areas of the state of New York. For the first one tested, there was nobody in the family who tested positive, so they must have received it from outside, infected humans.
However, the owner of the second tested positive for COVID-19, but the other cat in the household shows no symptoms of having the illness. The great news is that both are expected to make a full recovery, and there is still no evidence that household pets can transmit the virus.
However, the CDC recommends the following to all pet owners. That we must not let them interact with people and other animals outside the house, that cats must be kept indoors as much as possible.
If you or someone in your house is sick with COVID-19, whether it is suspected or confirmed, that their interaction with their pets must be restricted; if it is required, you must wear a facemask and wash your hands constantly.
I coin this unique period of our lives, the ‘isolation era’. Globally, people are required and even forced by their governments and armies to stay home to prevent the spread of this deadly virus that has taken almost 3 million people in just a couple of months. Now, we have received the unfortunate news that we can be toxic to our pets.
Pets that already live in ‘captivity”, such as your pet rat, snake, hamster, guinea pig, parakeet, or fish are already used to being indoors with you and being entertained by their lives in their cages, terrarium, or aquarium.
Dogs usually follow your lead, whether inside or outside. The only times that they are outside is when they use the doggy door to go to the bathroom in the backyard or go for daily walks on their leash. The CDC recommends that dogs must keep on their leash at all times, stay 6 feet away from people and other dogs, and cannot congregate at dog parks.
However, household cats are either outdoor cats or indoor cats, but according to the CDC, cats should be prevented from being outside as much as possible. So how can you turn your outside cat into an indoor cat? Here are 8 suggestions:
- Train them to walk on a leash. The rules above that apply to a dog then obviously apply to your cat.
- If it is too hard to train your cat to be on a leash, bring the outside inside.
- Leave several litter-boxes and cat treats around your home. If you own a dog, it’s best to train your pet to go inside the toilet instead of going outside. In case you didn’t know already, there are dog litter boxes that are much larger, some even have fake plastic grass to help your get the message.
- Remember they have deeply embedded survival instincts Lion King-style, so experiment with all kinds of toys, especially interactive ones, ones that bring out their instinct to hunt, or ones that smell like catnip.
- Feed them food that tastes like prey, such as Fancy Feast Tuna canned cat food. Food can be a great source of comfort for both pets and their human parents. Order pet food online to avoid going out. Also, it’s a good idea to order many smaller packs of different pet food products. Buy pet food toppers and a combination of canned as well as dry food. This will keep things interesting for your pet.
- Learn about indoor exercises, such as your treadmill, running wheel (just like a hamster), or a DIY hockey rink. Get creative.
- Make playtime inside with you longer and more active. This really is a win-win scenario. You get your daily exercise and your pet does too. Tug of war is a good game if you have a bit of space. Playing indoor fetch with a soft ball can also work.
- Don’t lose track of the daily routine. Just because you are not going out doesn’t mean the pet care routine should go for a toss. Take care of the basics by ensuring your pet is served food on time and the water bowl is always full.
- Find out new games to play with your dog or cat. There are plenty of articles and videos on the subject. This will keep both you and your pet entertained for hours.
- Cats experience boredom. They can also play independently without human intervention, so these are ways that you can make your space an entertaining, stimulating cat playground.
- Give them the ability to reach high places in your home and keep those spaces clear for them to hangout.
- Purchase a cat house so they can climb, hide, exercise, play, etc.
- Windows are like Netflix for cats with hours of commercial-free entertainment like people watching, hearing cars drive by, and even putting a bird feeder right outside the window to excite them.
- Section a private hang out space with a cat bed.
As you are living in quarantine, it is your responsibility to protect your household pets in isolation the best that you can.