Edinburgh University cat expert warns that many cats could die if 'Cat Covid' spreads from Cyprus to UK

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
‘Alarming’ increase in cases of Cat Covid in Cyprus sparks warning over possible spread to this country

Many cats in the UK could die if a virus which has already killed 300,000 in Cyprus spreads to this county, an expert at Edinburgh University has warned.

The virus – Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) – is a strain of coronavirus and has been labelled “Cat Covid”. It does not infect humans, but is said to be mostly fatal in cats if it is not treated. An “alarming” increase in cases has been reported in Cyprus, spreading from the capital Nicosia throughout the whole island since January, prompting speculation it could be a new strain of the virus.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Only 107 cases have been officially confirmed, but vets and animal advocates say the real figure is far higher. One estimated that out of a cat population of around one million, 300,000 had died in the last six months. Symptoms include fever, abdominal swelling, energy loss and sometimes increased hostility. Kittens and young cats are particularly susceptible to the virus.

Kittens and young cats are said to be most at risk from 'Cat Covid'.Kittens and young cats are said to be most at risk from 'Cat Covid'.
Kittens and young cats are said to be most at risk from 'Cat Covid'.

Professor Danièlle Gunn-Moore, a specialist in feline medicine at Edinburgh University, told The Daily Telegraph that an outbreak on this scale had never been seen before, with increasing reports of dead cats lying in the streets. She said: "There is already some evidence, albeit anecdotal, that it may already be in Turkey, Lebanon and potentially Israel. If this virus gets to the UK it could cause many of our cats to die. It would be heart-breaking. We must take this seriously."

Anyone whose cat displays the symptoms of FIP is advised to take their pet to the vet immediately. Remdesivir, one of the antiviral drugs used to treat Covid-19, is approved for treating cats with FIP.