Can Cats Get Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is making its way through the United States, as well as nearly 100 other countries around the world. At the time of this writing, there are tens of thousands of confirmed cases all over the world and that number is expected to grow.
With this virus hitting the news so hard, pet owners are wondering if cats and other animals can get the Monkeypox virus.
As of right now, scientists have no hard evidence that states whether or not cats can contract the Monkeypox virus.
Even though there is no hard evidence that suggests dogs and cats can contract Monkeypox, there is also no evidence stating the contrary. This means your pet may still be susceptible to contracting the virus.
And nobody wants a sick pet!
As a precaution, the World Health Organization recommends any animal caretaker who contracts the Monkeypox virus stay away from their pets for three weeks (21 days), just to be safe! You want to avoid potential exposure of Monkeypox to your cat, doing so can prevent spreading and avoid transmission.
It may be hard to avoid your pet for 3 weeks, especially if you’re their only caretaker. If you’re not able to completely avoid contact with them, then try and limit it as much as possible just to be safe.
Oftentimes an individual with Monkeypox fully recovers with no lasting damage. We hope that the same is true for cats, should they be susceptible to the virus.
What To Do If Your Cat Has Been Exposed To Monkeypox
Both your cat and the animal’s caretaker should be kept under isolation if they’ve had direct contact with any infected persons or infected animals.
If you have any other cats in the household then you want to make sure all other animals avoid contact with the cat(s) that have been exposed.
Infectious diseases that are transmitted between humans and animals are nothing to play around with. You don’t want to care for a sick pet and a symptomatic person at the same time.
Again, if a member of your household has Monkeypox, please make sure they avoid contact with your furry friends just as a precaution.
If you feel your cat has been exposed to Monkeypox then please contact your veterinarian immediately.
What Is Monkeypox?
Monkeypox is a virus in the Poxiviridae family. This means that Monkeypox is related to other pox viruses, such as Smallpox, Chickenpox, and even Cowpox.
Most mammals are prone to Poxvirus infections, this means that there is a likelihood that your cat may be able to get Monkeypox.
Again, scientists have no direct proof one way or another, but you want to be extra safe to ensure your cat doesn’t get Monkeypox.
The CDC has guidelines on Monkeypox Prevention in humans. Following these guidelines ensures humans don’t contract Monkeypox, obviously. But this also means there’s a smaller chance that the virus will be passed down to your cat or other animals.
If you have had close contact with any infected people or animals then you need to take preventative measures.
Animals Have Transmitted Monkeypox To Humans In The Past
Back in 2003, nearly 50 Midwestern US residents contracted Monkeypox after being exposed to someone’s prairie dogs which they kept as a pets.
These pet prairie dogs were originally housed in Ghana. This same place that housed these prairie dogs also housed many other wild animals and rodents.
Close contact between humans and these pets caused a few people to get infected with Monkeypox. These infected individuals then went on to infect their family members.
Symptoms Of Monkeypox In Cats
Again, there are no documented cases (yet) of the Monkeypox virus in cats, but veterinary medicine experts believe that cats would exhibit the following symptoms:
Rash that you may or may not see through your cat’s fur
Pink Eye (AKA Conjunctivitis)
Mood Changes / Lethargy
Respiratory Issues (is your cat breathing with it’s mouth open?)
Coughing or Wheezing
If your cat is showing any of these symptoms, regardless of whether or not they’ve been exposed to Monkeypox, please contact your vet immediately!
It’s also important to note that some cats (and other animals) who potentially contract Monkeypox likely won’t show any symptoms.
Symptoms Of Monkeypox In Humans
Humans who contract the Monkeypox virus will likely be infected for 2-4 weeks and may exhibit the following symptoms:
Swollen Lymph Nodes
Muscle Pains & Aches
Lethargy or Exhaustion
How Is Monkeypox Transmitted Between Cats and Humans
Monkeypox requires close contact for transmission. This can come from your face being extremely close to your pet’s face. Transmission can occur when you come in contact with body fluids from an infected person or cat.
Dogs and cats can potentially even transmit the virus to you with a small scratch or bite.
Contact through body fluids is the most common way that scientists say the virus is transmitted as of now.
You can read more about Monkeypox transmission in animals from the CDC.
We Don't Know Everything About Monkeypox (Yet)!
Even though Monkeypox is not some new virus that we’ve never seen before, there are still things that scientists are trying to learn about this virus. Some of these research points apply to both humans and animals.
Scientists don’t know if Monkeypox:
Can be spread by someone who is infected but isn’t showing symptoms
What point during the incubation and infection process that someone is most contagious
How often the virus spreads through respiratory secretions (like saliva from a sneeze)
If Monkeypox can actually spread through urine, semen, or vaginal fluids
Because we are still learning a lot about this virus it is best to exercise as much cautious as possible. Use chemical disinfectants and surface cleaners such as counter cleaning wipes. Immediately disinfect any fresh cuts with hydrogen peroxide. Use alcohol based hand sanitizer wherever possible. Pay close attention to any new rash you or your cat develops.
And, most importantly, if you ever have any doubts, please reach out to your local vet to help mitigate any risk that you or your cat may pose to one another.