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Safety First (Covid-19 & Companion Animals)

I’ll keep you informed

How can I resist Lily smooshing her face into my lips?!

How can I resist Lily smooshing her face into my lips?!

Let’s stay informed and avoid panicking. As I learn new info about Covid-19 or SARS-CoV-2 regarding our little ones, I’ll share it in the comments below.

(As of April 8) I’ve had no known exposure, no symptoms, no clients telling me they have been exposed, and I’ve had very little contact with humans since mid-February.

Keep me informed

Please let me know if you’re my client and you have symptoms, have been exposed to, or test positive for SARS-CoV-2 or Covid-19 (or any infectious disease) around the time I provide cat care to your family. If this situation arises, I will immediately inform clients whose homes I’ve been in around that same time. This has not happened, I’m just planning ahead. And from what we know so far, I wouldn’t catch it from being in the house of someone who tested positive. But still… You know…  I’m a worrier.

Also tell me if you want me to take any extraordinary precautions when I enter your homes in the near future. Let me know if you want me to avoid kissing your little sweeties, for example.

Covid-19 and SARS-CoV-2 and your furry family members

So far, we think that cats and dogs are mostly silent carriers. Yes, there have been confirmed cases of cats and dogs being silent carriers and one case of a cat who showed some mild symptoms. This situation is being tracked, of course, by veterinary health institutions and professionals around the world. Experts around the world are keeping an eye on things, and I’ll share new info as it becomes available.

People who are sick with COVID-19 are advised to restrict contact with all animals – not only human primates. Still, The CDC suggests that people who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 should avoid contact with animals, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. And people who are ill and are still interacting with their companion animals should take the same precautions as they would take when interacting with other humans: wear a facemask and wash hands thoroughly before and after the interactions.

On 8 April, British Veterinary Association has more serious advice for people diagnosed with Covid-19. (However, the American Veterinary Medical Association is not making any similar comments. Yet.)

  • Restrict contact with pets as a precautionary animal health measure until more information is known about the virus.
  • If your pet requires care, wash your hands before and after any interaction with them and wear a face mask if possible.
  • Keep cats indoors if possible and try to arrange for someone else to exercise dogs, taking care to restrict any contact with the person walking your dog and making sure they practice good hygiene. This is to reduce the likelihood of your pet spreading the disease through environmental contamination on their fur – there is no evidence that pet animals play a role in the spread of the disease.
  • If your pet shows clinical signs, please do not take it to the vet but call the practice for advice.
  • If your pet requires emergency treatment, call the practice for further advice. Do not take your pet to the surgery unless the vet instructs you to. You may need to arrange for someone else to transport your pet for treatment.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association: “While 2 dogs (Hong Kong) and 1 cat (Belgium) have been reported to have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.” There are studies pending in which cats in laboratories have been infected. (Descriptions of the study are a bit disturbing to read for animal rights/wellness activists, but if you’re interested visit https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/02/health/cats-dogs-ferrets-coronavirus-wellness/index.html and  https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/06/health/tiger-cat-coronavirus-wellness/index.html.)

If the virus causes the same symptoms in cats and dogs as it does in humans, my biggest concern is the impact on their appetites. Without being able to smell or taste their food, will they stop eating? That would be really, really bad. If you notice any symptoms that concern you, please call your general vet or call Olympia Pet Emergency immediately. They can help you decide whether you need to bring your little one to the doctor. Also, most veterinary clinics have special procedures to follow during the COVID-19 crisis and you’ll need to know what to do if you take your darling to the doctor. (Unfortunately, Olympia Pet Emergency has no info on their website about COVID-19. But I can’t imagine that it’s business as usual for them at a time like this. Perhaps people who use Facebook or Twitter get more info from this clinic than the rest of us get?)

Your family’s safety is one of my top priorities

My lifestyle and personality are such that I have minimal contact with other human primates. I’m a homebody who doesn’t even go to the store very often. In February I had a 10 day staycation just because none of my clients needed me. There was no need for me to leave my house so I practiced my ideal lifestyle: staying home in my PJs. So don’t worry about me spreading anything. It’s quite unlikely since I’m such a worrier/preparer!

Yes, my clients travel, but remember that I’m in their homes while they are away. So if someone travels to a high-risk area (which has NOT happened since this Covid-19 outbreak), I’m unlikely to come in contact with those people or things they touch after they return. (In fact, business has come to a screeching halt and I’ve been inside NO HOUSES except my own for weeks.)

Preliminary studies now show this virus probably lingers in the environment for up to a few days. Still, no worries for my clients. Although I wouldn’t call myself OCD about disinfecting and sanitizing, I am consistent about doing those things before and after visiting clients’ houses and public areas. My cats and I have weakened immune systems so I’ve always been aware of the importance of how to minimize the spread of germs between myself and my family, and my clients and their homes. In addition to washing my hands, I use my non-toxic antimicrobial hand sanitizer more frequently than usual these days.

Since I can’t resist kissing your darlings, I also put the antimicrobial sanitizer on my lips before entering each clients’ house. I swear I’m not OCD about this, but I do want to minimize exposure to any of my loved ones. Let’s just say I try to use my worrier powers/tendencies for good. Ha!

FWIW, my antimicrobial hand sanitizer is an amazing colloidal silver-based lotion. It has no alcohol, toxic chemicals, or scents that will dry out my skin or spread anything stinky or toxic to things I touch. (It’s similar to the sanitizer the Obamas use.) I make my own using colloidal silver and a recipe by local colloidal silver guru Lin Gregerson of Sterling Naturals (http://www.sterlingnaturals.com/)

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13 comments to Safety First (Covid-19 & Companion Animals)

  • Just added to the post above:

    On 8 April, British Veterinary Association has more serious advice for people diagnosed with Covid-19.

    • Restrict contact with pets as a precautionary animal health measure until more information is known about the virus.
    • If your pet requires care, wash your hands before and after any interaction with them and wear a face mask if possible.
    • Keep cats indoors if possible and try to arrange for someone else to exercise dogs, taking care to restrict any contact with the person walking your dog and making sure they practice good hygiene. This is to reduce the likelihood of your pet spreading the disease through environmental contamination on their fur – there is no evidence that pet animals play a role in the spread of the disease.
    • If your pet shows clinical signs, please do not take it to the vet but call the practice for advice.
    • If your pet requires emergency treatment, call the practice for further advice. Do not take your pet to the surgery unless the vet instructs you to. You may need to arrange for someone else to transport your pet for treatment.
  • According to the American Veterinary Medical Association: “While 2 dogs (Hong Kong) and 1 cat (Belgium) have been reported to have been infected with SARS-CoV-2, infectious disease experts and multiple international and domestic human and animal health organizations agree there is no evidence at this point to indicate that pets spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.”

    See American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). “COVID-19″. Animal health and welfare. https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/animal-health-and-welfare/covid-19 and also
    Maïthé Chini’s “Belgian woman infected her cat.” The Brussels Times. Coronavirus. https://www.brusselstimes.com/all-news/belgium-all-news/103003/coronavirus-belgian-woman-infected-her-cat/

  • Pet supply stores ARE ALLOWED TO REMAIN OPEN. These stores and also pet food manufacturers are included in the list of businesses that are allowed to remain open for business. Here are direct quotes from Governor Inslee’s order.

    • “Commercial Retail Stores, that supply essential sectors, including … pet supply stores…”
    • “Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include those employed in … pet and animal feed processing facilities…”

    Washington State Office of the Governor. “Essential business.” Washington State Coronavirus Response (COVID-19). 23 March 2020. 24 March 2020. https://coronavirus.wa.gov/whats-open-and-closed/essential-business

  • The CDC finally provided an entire webpage with info about Covid-19 and companion animals. I just added that page to my list of sources above. Here it is:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), Division of Viral Diseases. “Animals and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)”. 16 March 2020. 19 March 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/animals.html

  • Happy St Patrick’s Day! (Did this holiday get lost among the virus chatter?) Virtually visit “the 32 most beautiful places in Ireland

    Now for a bit of humor…

    A friend texted me about her current position of just staying home. (Her “son” is her kitty.) “I think my little son has decided that I have finally, after 18 years, been sufficiently trained to not ever leaving the house as he has tried to tell me his whole life. I think he must be extremely proud of himself. I am a slow learner I guess…”

    A friend texted me about one of their social media friends saying they were down to one roll of TP. “If you see me scooting pants-down across the lawn, don’t judge me!”

  • Am I the only person who recently geeked on the differences between sanitizing and disinfecting?

    C.M. Cleaning. “The Easy difference between disinfect, sanitize, and sterilize!”. C.M. Cleaning. 9 November 2018. 15 March 2020. https://cmcleaning.com/2018/11/the-easy-difference-between-disinfect-sanitize-and-sterilize/

    Phillips, Lauren. “If you don’t know the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting, you might not be cleaning properly”. Home cleaning, More techniques. Real simple. 10 July 2019. 15 March 2020. https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/cleaning/more-techniques/sanitize-vs-disinfect

  • I know none of my clients could fathom this scenario: “Cats and dogs abandoned at the start of the coronavirus outbreak are now starving or being killed” People were “forced to leave without their pets”?! Um, sorry, I don’t care what authorities tell me. Even if someone held me at gunpoint telling me to leave, but leave my cats behind, there is NO way! They’d have to forcibly remove me and even that wouldn’t be easy. I’d fight to the death if at all possible. No WAY would I leave my little ones behind! UGH!!!

  • I do still prefer to be paid with cash. (Granted, no money is coming lately & I don’t expect any for the next… month?) These days, I disinfect cash as it comes into my possession. I’m still using cash at the gas pump and in stores. Here’s a question: when you pay using cards, do you touch keypads or touchscreens? If so, how sanitary are those pads and screens? ‘-)

    Which is more germy: cash, checks, or credit/debit cards? There is a (non-scientific, non-lab) study (done by non-researchers) that found cards were MORE germy than cash. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dirty-money-germs_l_5cdec311e4b09e057802bdca Weird. Why hasn’t there been a scientific study of this?

    More info at https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/07/tech/mobile-payments-coronavirus/index.html and also https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/06/what-you-need-to-know-about-handling-cash-amid-coronavirus-spread-who.html.

  • I can’t resist sharing this. (Not that any dogs were in quarantine over this stuff. But still… Pretty cute.)

  • I’m getting lots of questions about something that I might as well address here. Yes, my business is taking a hit because of travel disruptions.

    I expect to have some of my lost income offset with a temporary increase in my monthly food stamps allowance. Covering the costs of other necessities, however, might become a problem if this continues for longer than another month or so. Pet sitting has always been a feast-or-famine income rollercoaster. The lows are just really low right now and the highs are not as high as usual.

    Cat sitting has certainly has never been about the money for me. (I can’t imagine any sitter ever making that claim because after expenses and taxes, we make less than minimum wage.) It’s about quality of life – mine, my cats’, and the little darlings on my client list. And I’ve never been happier or felt more appreciated in my other careers. I’m quite grateful to have fallen into the cat sitting life. :-) Especially now. I am so glad that my “supervisors” have paws and whiskers. I’m so glad that my day-to-day work isn’t teaching on college/university campuses. And I’m still walking around, thinking “THIS is the LIFE”!

  • FYI.. I just added the following paragraph to this post. (I’m copying it here so people don’t have to re-read the article and try to guess what info has been recently added.) “People who are sick with COVID-19 are advised to restrict contact with all animals – not only human primates. Still, The CDC suggests that people who test positive for SARS-CoV-2 should avoid contact with animals, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food. And people who are ill and are still interacting with their companion animals should take the same precautions as they would take when interacting with other humans: wear a facemask and wash hands thoroughly before and after the interactions.”

  • As always, Kari, I appreciate your post and the timely information

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