Tag: coronavirus

Hug Your Cats Tight, Don’t Let Them Out Of Sight

Cats have been a Godsend in this era of social distancing.

People are looking for something — anything — to get their minds off grim reality and the repetitive, depressing 24/7 virus coverage that dominates television.

Cats have delivered. Our furry friends have been covering themselves in glory, providing an endless supply of viral videos and making people smile just by being their endearing, quirky selves.

Most of all they’ve been there for us at home, soothing anxieties and lowering blood pressure with each lap they claim and each affectionate nuzzle. We may be isolated from other people, but when there’s a cat in the house you never feel truly alone. (If for nothing else, their meows at meal time will make sure of that.)

For me it’s not even a question: Without my Buddy, I’d be slipping into depression of a kind that can’t be cured with Netflix bingeing, books or games.

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Little Buddy the Cat on March 27, 2020.

Now we’ve got to return the favor and protect our cats.

The first “confirmed” case of a cat contracting COVID-19 has come from Belgium, where a veterinary lab ran tests on a sick cat with respiratory problems and concluded the cat picked up the virus from her human.

“The cat lived with her owner, who started showing symptoms of the virus a week before the cat did,” said Steven Van Gucht, a public health official in Belgium, according to the Brussels Times. “The cat had diarrhea, kept vomiting and had breathing difficulties. The researchers found the virus in the cat’s feces.”

This is not good news.

Medical diagnostic labs in the US have tested thousands of pets for COVID-19 and haven’t found a single infected animal.

The World Health Organization has repeatedly said there is no evidence of dogs or cats serving as hosts for the virus or infecting humans, although that organization has killed its own credibility with its effusive praise for the Chinese government, and by parroting Chinese insistence that the virus couldn’t be transmitted from human to human. (WHO continued telling the world there was no evidence of contagion through late January, some six weeks after it was clear the virus was multiplying.)

The deadly consequences of misinformation

Unfortunately that didn’t stop innumerable people from abandoning their cats and dogs in China, leaving them in apartments and houses to starve. One Chinese animal welfare group, which is partnered with Humane Society International, says “tens of thousands” of pets were abandoned.

Some Chinese territories instructed people to kill their pets, and there are sickening reports of people clubbing defenseless animals to death in the streets.

That may not be surprising in China, which has an abominable record on human and animal rights, but now there are disturbing reports from all over the world. Shelter operators in the UK, for instance, say they’re fielding calls from people who want to abandon their pets because of the Coronavirus.

“Mostly, it’s people who haven’t got access to the right information online,” Claire Jones, who works at a shelter in Stoke-on-Trent, told the BBC. “It’s a nightmare.”

Misinformation and confusion are compounding the problem, the result of a new media ecosystem in which news is whatever a person’s social circle posts on their feeds and news consumers don’t distinguish between reliable press outlets (Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Reuters, etc) and the thousands of less scrupulous sites masquerading as legitimate sources of news.

Thus, when a dog in China tested positive for trace elements of Coronavirus — but blood tests were negative — sites like Quartz wasted no time pumping out headlines declaring that dogs and cats can be infected.

Exercising caution with information

It looks like the Belgium case is another in which fact and nuance are sacrificed for clicks. Belgian virologist Hans Nauwynck is among the skeptics who believe veterinary authorities in his country acted too rashly.

“Before sending this news out into the world, I would have had some other tests carried out,” Nauwynck told the Brussels Times.

To confirm the positive test, the lab used a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR. A PCR test “allows scientists to multiply a very small sample of genetic material to produce a quantity large enough to study,” the Times noted. But the test only confirmed that the cat suffered from a flu-like virus. It did not specifically match the viral infection with COVID-19.

“A clear link between virus excretion and clinical signs cannot be established, in part because other possible causes for the cat’s illness were not excluded,” wrote Ginger Macaulay, a veterinarian in Lexington, South Carolina.

In addition, authorities didn’t rule out the possibility that the sample was contaminated or maintain a forensic chain of possession that would ensure it was properly handled.

“I would advise people to slow down,” Nauwynck said. “There may somehow have been genetic material from the owner in the sample, and so the sample is contaminated.”

To be absolutely certain, he said, more tests should have been done to confirm the initial result, and certainly before making an announcement to the world. Veterinary authorities should have tested for the presence of antibodies in the cat’s system as well, he said, which is a sign that an immune system is fighting off an infection.

“I’m worried that people will be scared by this news and animals will be the ones to suffer, and that’s not right. As scientists we ought to put out clear and full information, and I don’t think that has happened.”

With reports about the infected cat spreading across the globe — and adding to existing fears — the Belgian virologist said panic could override reason, with catastrophic consequences for our little feline friends.

“I wouldn’t wish to be a cat tomorrow.”

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A cat on a lead in China is protected with a face mask. Credit: AsiaWire

Dear Buddy: Stop Being So Mean To Humans!

Dear Buddy,

You’re kind of a jerk when it comes to humans.

Humans love us! They take care of us, they feed us, they let us sleep on the floor and drag our butts over the carpet!

They are so nice, always complimenting us and reminding us we’re good boys. They take us for walks, pick up our business and sometimes they let us sleep at the foot of the bed!

Humans are a little stressed right now. They have the whole virus thing on their minds. They’re worried about getting sick, or about their friends who are sick. I’m sure serving your dinner at exactly the right time isn’t the biggest priority right now. That’s a first world cat problem.

So maybe humans need your support and love instead of constant criticism. Have you ever thought of that?

– Good Boy Grateful in Georgia


Dear Good Boy,

No, I hadn’t thought of that.

Buddy the Impatient

P.S. Meal service tardiness is not a trivial matter.

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How humans should be treating us during the Coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Great Canine/imgur

Dear Buddy: Why Are Our Humans Home All The Time?

Dear Buddy,

There’s a dire situation we need to urgently bring to your attention: Our humans are not leaving the house! We meowed to the other cats on our block, and their humans aren’t leaving their homes either. Abe the Abyssinian from across town wandered into our neighborhood and said the same thing is happening in his neck of the woods.

WHAT IS GOING ON?!?

Don’t get us wrong, it’s nice to have a little extra service now and then, but this is really putting a cramp on our lifestyles. We can’t sit on the Warm Pads because our humans are always at home using them. Our beds, which we generously allow our people to use every night, are now constantly claimed by these suddenly-lazy humans.

Worst of all, we can’t steal food because our humans are right here.

Do you know why this is happening?

– Perturbed in Pensacola

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Credit: Instagram/marugadesuyo

Dear Perturbed,

I hadn’t noticed, but then again my human is a loser who works from home and doesn’t have a social life, so I queried some feline amigos, and sure enough their humans are staying indoors too.

Usually this only happens when it’s really cold and snowing, but it’s pretty nice outside, sunny and getting warmer.

I strongly suspect this has to do with the Corona Virus, the one spreading through beer, as I learned through my own investigation last week. (Detective work comes naturally to me.)

Perhaps we can solve this by bringing the infected beer to them! Think about it: They’re doing something called quarreltineering to avoid Corona, but if they open up the fridge and find Coronas right there, they’re no longer safe at home!

That means they will go back outside and we can have our naps and steal food in peace.

I really should sell these ideas instead of giving them away for free. I’d be rich!

Your friend,

Budlock Holmes

 

Newest Social Distancing Fad: Sports With Your Cat

You’re bored, we’re bored, everyone’s bored.

We’re all living like hermits these days, hunkered down at home, trying to limit our exposure to the Coronavirus while risking cabin fever.

We’re trying to find new activities here in El Casa de Buddy: There aren’t any live sports, the new season of Netflix’s awesome action drama Kingdom only had six episodes, and there are only so many times you can watch humorous clips of idiots playing trombones on bikes or Ali G exasperating another poor soul with his profound stupidity. (“It’s a farm. Do you know what a farm is?” “It’s a rubbish zoo.”)

Necessity being the mother of invention and all that, people have begun inventing sports to play with their cats.

Cat cricket:

Cat bowling:

Tic-Cat-Toe:

Then there’s cat air hockey. Is there a cat who doesn’t like batting things around on flat surfaces?

h/t USAT’s For the Win.

Inspired by the creativity of other feline servants, I put a few suggestions to Buddy.

“Hey Bud, wanna play cat soccer?”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a game. We take a ball and…”

“Nope. Got napping to do.”

“Uh, okay. How about cat golf? I’ll cut a hole in a cardboard box and…”

“Don’t you dare defile a box!”

“But it’ll be fun! Come on, little dude.”

“I have an idea for a game.”

“You do?”

“Yep. It’s called Buddy takes a nap, and Big Buddy stays quiet otherwise Little Buddy bites him. We start playing now.”

So there you have it. We’re gonna try our hand/paw at competitive napping, which I suppose works for us since Buddy’s favorite way to nap is curling up on top of me.

If any of our readers have found novel ways to simultaneously entertain themselves and their feline masters, please do share.

Dear Buddy: Should Cats Be Concerned About Coronavirus?

Dear Buddy,

My humans have been stressed out lately, rubbing every surface with weird-smelling wipes and going on incessantly about something called the Coronavirus. I’m starting to get a little worried now. What is the Coronavirus, and do we cats have to worry about a disease that infects lesser animals like humans?

– Unsure In Utah


Dear Unsure,

I’d never heard of that there Coronavirus, so I did a little research. It turns out that my Big Buddy has six (!) Coronas in the refrigerator and is either unaware they carry viruses or doesn’t care.

Actually there may be more than six. I got kinda distracted when I found the cheese and helped myself to some Gouda.

So I went on the Internet, because everyone knows only true things are allowed on the Internet, and I found this:

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Makers of Corona report £132,000,000 loss as a result of coronavirus

Also, the search term “Corona beer virus” is trending, so there are people who are smart like me who have also made the connection:

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Searches for “Corona beer virus” and “Coronavirus beer” have spiked sharply over the past month, Google Trends shows.

I also looked at the most trustworthy source, Wikipedia, and it says Corona is a beer made in Mexico.

I’m not exactly sure whether Mexico is a city or a province of China, but I heard some humans saying Corona Virus originated in China, so I can tell you for sure that Corona Virus started with Mexican Chinese people drinking Corona.

So it is my informed and professional opinion that we felines are safe from Coronavirus as long as we do not drink Corona, and as long as our humans don’t put Corona beer in our water bowls.

Your friend,

Doctor Buddy, MD

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