DEAR READERS: With regard to the possibility of cats from COVID-infected families infecting other cats and wildlife if allowed outdoors, I recently wrote a letter to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (a highly respected organization, of which I am an Honor Roll member), calling for a lockdown on cats being allowed to roam free. This letter was met with the editor’s comment that “excessive speculation is not particularly helpful right now.”
With that in mind, it was good to see this Nov. 9 press release from the AVMA, which I have abbreviated below.
IF YOU GET COVID-19, WHAT’S YOUR PET CARE PLAN?
From the AVMA:
"During the pandemic, many Americans have become new pet owners, bringing home a dog or cat to keep them company and lift their spirits when stay-at-home orders were issued. With the country now in the midst of a mounting wave of infections, the American Veterinary Medical Association is reminding pet owners to have a plan in place for caring for their pets in the event they contract coronavirus.
“Dr. Douglas Kratt, president of the AVMA, recommends that, if pet owners become infected, they should identify another member of the household who will take care of feeding, walking, playing with and otherwise caring for the pet, and make sure they are willing and have everything they need to do so.
“COVID-positive pet owners who don’t have someone else available within the household to care for their pets should wear a cloth face covering; should not share food with, kiss, or hug their pets; and need to wash their hands before and after any contact.
“Pet owners should make sure they have identified a person or a facility that can care for their pets if they are hospitalized. If they are unsure of who can care for their pets in these circumstances, their veterinarian may have recommendations.
“’While this is primarily a human disease, we have seen a small number of cases in pets,’ said Dr. Kratt. ‘These cases in pets appear to be uncommon, and are mostly mild or asymptomatic, but they can still happen. To be safe, and until we know more about the virus, the AVMA recommends those ill with COVID-19 restrict contact with their pets, just as they would restrict contact with other people.’
“In general, it’s a good idea to not let your pets interact with people or other animals outside the household, especially in places with community spread of COVID-19. Cats should be kept indoors, when possible, to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people. ...
“Dr. Kratt stressed that pet owners shouldn’t panic or consider abandoning their pets during the pandemic. Instead, he hopes pet owners plan for emergencies, understand the actual scope of the problem and take simple steps to protect themselves and their pets.
“For more information on veterinary medicine and COVID-19, visit AVMA.org/Coronavirus.”
Dr. Fox here: I would stress that above all, cat owners should not panic and get rid of them. This would risk repeating the insanity of the Black Death plague of the Middle Ages, when cats were wrongly blamed and exterminated. Just like dogs, cats should not be allowed to roam free. See the article “Keeping Cats Healthy and Happy Indoors” on my website.
DEAR DR. FOX: I am writing to you because I have run out of options to help my cat with her stomatitis. I have had all of her teeth removed, and she has been on steroids for almost a year. My vet has told me that she will develop diabetes if she continues on the steroids. The steroids have helped her tremendously, but when we try to wean her off, the stomatitis flares up again. It seems to affect the back of her throat the most. My vet ordered Atopica to transition her off of the steroids.
I recently read your article on stomatitis because my vet wants her to go to a dental specialist to scrape her gums, but I’m not sure that is the path I want to take. I am open to an integrative approach, and would love to hear your opinion on using Atopica. -- D.P., Hanover, New Jersey
DEAR D.P.: Your cat is afflicted by a complex disease seen in many cats. You can make your own herbal salves to soothe and help heal the gums; rub them on with a finger wrapped in gauze. These natural remedies, human-tested and verified for decades as gingivitis treatments, include green tea and aloe vera. These are gifts from Mother Nature that Big Pharma wants us to forget!
Regarding Atopica, I have a posting about that on my website (DrFoxOneHealth.com).
(Send all mail to email@example.com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)