A story on the BBC News website said: “Veterinary scientists have recommended cat owners keep their pets indoors to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.”
The article quoted the president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), Daniella Dos Santos, saying that people should "practise good hand hygiene, try and keep cats indoors." Ms Dos Santos is also quoted saying: “Avoid unnecessary contact with your pets, such a hugging or allowing them to lick your face, and do not touch other people's dogs when on walks."
The BVA has since clarified that this advice is only intended for people who have coronavirus symptoms, or who are self-isolating—and only then when it is practical to keep the animal indoors.
“We are not advising that all cats are kept indoors. Only cats from infected households or where their owners are self-isolating, and only if the cat is happy to be kept indoors. Some cats cannot stay indoors due to stress-related medical reasons.”
A small number of pets around the world have tested positive for the new coronavirus, although there is no evidence that dogs or cats can pass the disease to humans.
However, it is possible that the new coronavirus might be carried between people on an animal’s fur, according to the BVA.
“That’s why our main advice for pet owners continues to be to practise good hand hygiene,” Ms Dos Santos says. “And, as a precaution, 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.”
You’ve probably seen a surge in misleading and unsubstantiated medical advice since the Covid-19 outbreak. If followed, it can put lives at serious risk. We need your help to protect us all from false and harmful information.
We’ve seen people claiming to be health professionals, family members, and even the government – offering dangerous tips like drinking warm water or gargling to prevent infection. Neither of these will work.
The longer claims like these go unchecked, the more they are repeated and believed. It can put people’s health at serious risk, when our services are already under pressure.
Today, you have the opportunity to help save lives. Good information about Covid-19 could be the difference between someone taking the right precautions to protect themselves and their families, or not. Could you help protect us all from false and harmful information today?