Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Advice for Cat Owners and Rescue Centres
(page updated Monday 20th September 2021)

As coronavirus continues to be a presence in our lives, this page is updated regularly. We aim to provide the most current information that we can.


cat, computer and cup of tea

Cat Chat

All members of the Cat Chat team work online from their own homes, therefore our website and services have and will continue as normal throughout all lockdowns or restrictions. Rescue centres have needed our help even more through the changes brought about by covid. Viewing cats for adoption online - something we have been facilitating for over 21 years - has become the new normal for everyone. Begin your adoption journey here with Cat Chat, in the comfort and safety of your own home.

Rehoming Centres

Through all the challenges of coronavirus, rehoming centres have still needed to find the ideal homes for the animals in their care. Rehoming organisations have had to adapt their procedures to enable cats to be adopted out safely, and to comply with any current coronavirus guidance. It will vary between organisations as to how their procedures have changed. Find out more on our blog post here: Covid-19: Adaptiong & Adopting.

Before visiting a shelter in person it is a good idea to contact them first, to make a prior arrangement. Most shelters will have covid safe procedures in place, which may limit the number of people they are able to admit at one time. It will normally be appreciated if you wear a face covering when visiting indoor shelters. Some of the larger welfare organisations have dedicated coronavirus procedure pages on their own websites, which we have linked to in our Further Information section. To find out the current adoption and rehoming procedures in place with smaller independent organisations, you will need to contact them directly - find contact details here: UK & Ireland cat rehoming centres.

See also 'Adopting a Cat' and 'Surrendering a Cat' below.

During the national lockdowns more people adopted pets (both cats and dogs), resulting in the unusual (but temporary!) situation of shelters having fewer animals than usual. However, as life gets back to normal, the number of animals being given up for rehoming is increasing again, and some rescue organisations are finding they are once again full up. Likely situations for pets being surrendered include families impacted economically by the pandemic, or where an owner goes back to work away from the home and no longer has enough time for the pet, or where an owner is affected by Covid-19 itself.

Additionally, since many vets were unable to carry out routine neutering during some of the strict lockdown periods, litters of unwanted kittens have come into rescue - some shelters are overwhelmed with kittens. For these reasons and more, some rescues may need to prioritise admitting new cats to those in emergency situations, such as strays, pregnant cats, and mums & kittens (during kitten season). Please bear this in mind when contacting rescue centres. If you would like to help your local rescue organisation, please see the 'How You Can Help!' section below.

Adopting a Cat

If you have been thinking about adopting a rescue cat, you will find that many rehoming organisations will still have some changed procedures in place, to follow coronavirus safety guidance. The best thing to do is email or phone your local rescue organisations to ask about their current adoption system.

Visiting a rehoming centre in person is again possible, but it's a good idea to contact them first, to make a prior arrangement. Your first step to aoption could be to 'meet' their cats online at Cat Chat's Cats Needing Homes section or on the shelter's own website if they have one. If you see a cat who you are interested in, or if you just wish to enquire about adopting a cat, contact the shelter to express your interest. Whilst most rescue centres are now allowing visitors in person, some may still like to arrange an initial 'virtual meet' with potential cats first.

To see available cats near you, visit our Cats for Adoption section, and then contact the shelter by phone or email: UK & Ireland cat rehoming centres

Warning: Don't get Petfished! Many more people adopted a cat or dog during the national lockdowns, resulting in the unusual (but temporary) situation of shelters having fewer animals than normal.  The UK Government launched the Petfished campaign to inform people about deceitful pet sellers, who use underhand tactics to ‘Petfish’ unsuspecting buyers. These criminals pretend that the puppy or kitten comes from a happy home, whereas they are mistreating animals to line their pockets. Even though shelters are filling up again, these criminals are still operating, and trying every underhand tactic they can think of to trick you out of your money whilst the animals suffer. Don't get Petfished!

Surrendering a Cat

Since the advent of coronavirus, additional procedures are in place at many rehoming centres to ensure everyone's safety, so please bear this in mind when making contact. Whilst most rescue centres had fewer cats in their care during the lockdown periods, the number of animals being given up for rehoming has greatly increased again, and litters of unplanned kittens are regularly coming into rescue. Priority still needs to be given to cats in emergency situations, such as strays or pregnant cats. If you need to rehome your own cat, please first consult our rehoming advice page to see if rehoming can be avoided, or consider whether a Direct Homing with the help of a rescue would be possible.

If you have no alternative to rehoming your cat, please be considerate of any extra measures that rescues need to take to be covid-safe, and be aware that some may be operating a waiting list. Please do not visit rehoming centres in person without an appointment, it's always best to make a prior arrangement: UK & Ireland cat rehoming centres

Neutering during Covid Lockdowns

Since the end of the national lockdown periods, vets are now operating as normal, and are able to accept routine apointments, including neutering . If you have a cat over 4 months of age who is not yet neutered, we would advise that you book them in for the procedure as soon as possible. Owners with un-neutered cats need to take extra care to keep them indoors until such time as they can be neutered, to prevent unplanned litters. Find your local vets practices here. Cats Protection have issued this guide for owners: Covid-19 Kitten Alert - What you can do.

Support Shops

Please respect any covid-19 safety notices on display in charity support shops. It is usually appreciated if you can wear a face covering when entering support shops, particuarly if they are busy. Along with all other 'non-essential' shops, support shops had to close during the national lockdowns. Many organised fundraising events were unable to proceed due to Covid-19, which meant that many rescue centres and rehoming groups - particularly the smaller ones - were struggling for funds, and are still trying to recover now. See 'How You can Help' below, or contact your local rescues to ask what help they need.

Pet Food Banks

Many people are struggling financially due to the economic impact of coronavirus. With job losses and company closures, it is inevitable that at least in the short term, more people will be relying on food banks. Many food banks also offer pet food, and some areas have also set up dedicated Pet Food Banks. If you have been hit financially by the pandemic and are finding it hard to afford your pet's food, please don't feel shy about asking for help - this is a situation any of us could find ourselves in. You can find out where your local food banks are from your local authority.

Be Prepared

Whether you are in an 'at risk' category for Covid-19 or not, it is sensible to have a pet care plan in place for if you become unwell. Appoint a friend or family member who could care for your pet(s) if you become too ill to do so, or if you were taken into hospital. This could mean seeing to their needs in your home, or taking them into their own home temporarily. It's also a good idea to let at least one other person know who your emergency pet carer is. Ensure that you have at least two weeks' supply of pet food, litter etc ready, as well as any medications (and instructions) in case of the need to relocate your pet. Also please ensure that your cat is neutered and microchipped. In case boarding becomes necessary, ensure your pets' vaccinations are up to date.

If you or anyone in your household feels unwell or has symptoms which might potentially be due to coronavirus, find information and guidance here: NHS website: Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Self Isolating with pets

If you are self isolating, include pet food in your online shopping, or use one of the many online shops specifically selling pet supplies. Alternatively, contact friends, family members or neighbours by phone or email, to ask if they could bring supplies to your door. Since the start of the coronavirus lockdowns, some local independent grocery stores also began offering a delivery service. If you are an older person, help is also available from Age UK. If you are ill yourself, deliveries should be left outside your door. For hints and tips on Self isolating with pets, both cats and dogs, see the 'Self Isolating?' links below.

If you are self-isolating due to symptoms of coronavirus, or if a member of your household is infected, the British Veterinary Association is advising that cats in such households should ideally be kept indoors, but only if the cat is happy to be kept inside: See full BVA Statement below

Pets and Coronavirus

Pet-to-Human transmission:
Veterinary and scientific experts worldwide agree that Covid-19 can NOT be transmitted from pets to humans. The British Veterinary Association's president, Daniella Dos Santos said "There is no evidence that pets can pass Covid-19 to their owners", and New York State Veterinary Medical Society said: “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the coronavirus.” According to a 2021 scientific study at the University of Glasgow (see 'Human-to-Pet transmission' below) there is currently no evidence of cat-to-human transmission, or that domestic animals play any role in the spread of human infections.

Human-to-Pet transmission:
Scientists now believe that it is possible for humans with Covid-19 to potentially infect their cats or dogs with the virus. A study at the University of Glasgow found two cases of human-to-cat transmission during a screening programme amongst cats in the UK. Therefore pet owners who have coronavirus or display symptoms should avoid close contact with their pet until they have fully recovered. The British Veterinary Association's advice that cats from infected households should ideally be kept indoors, but only if the cat is happy to be kept inside: See BVA information below.  Please be assured that Feline Coronavirus (FCoV) is NOT linked in any way to the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) in humans.

British Veterinary Association (BVA)

The British Veterinary Association has set up a Coronavirus Information Hub offering guidance and support to both animal health professionals and animal owners.
Coronavirus advice for animal owners
Coronavirus advice for veterinary professionals

Archive articles:
27th July 2020 the British Veterinary Association offered advice and reassurance after news that the virus responsible for Covid-19 had been detected in a pet cat in England; the first such known case in the UK. All available evidence suggests the cat contracted the coronavirus from its owners. The animal has since made a full recovery. There is no evidence that infected pets can pass Covid-19 to their owners. Read the full article here: www.bva.co.uk/reassurance-cat-tests-positive-covid-uk

8th April 2020:  Following an incorrect headline published by the BBC on 8th April 2020, the BVA issued this statement, which clarifies their advice as of that date. In short, there is no reason to keep your cats indoors, unless someone in your household has coronavirus, or if you are self isolating due to symptoms; and even then only if your cat is happy to be kept inside. Read the latest BVA advice here: (Covid-19): what we know so far.
Also related, is this statement from International Cat Care and International Society of Feline Medicine: Covid-19: Don’t start keeping your cats indoors

How You can Help!

£ Donate to Your Local Shelter: The main worry for animal rescue organisations since the start of the pandemic has been a shortfall in their funding. Many public fundraising events could not go ahead, and support shops had to close during lockdown periods. For many of the smaller rescues in particular, this loss of funds has had a huge impact, as vet bills and animal care expenses still need to be met.  If you are able to help your local rescue organisation with a donation - however small - that really is the best way you can help. Find details of rescues near you on our Shelter Listings (NB: To donate to a specific shelter, please donate to them directly, not to Cat Chat, thank you!).  

Food & Litter Donations: Donations of pet food & litter may also be welcomed by your local rescue organisation, but please check with them first, where and how they are able to accept donations. Some organisations have petfood collection points in local supermarkets.

Amazon Wish-Lists and eBay: A growing number of rescues have an 'Amazon Wishlist' where you can buy petfood, litter and other petcare items on their behalf, which are then delivered directly to them; shelters will usually advertise this on their website or facebook page. Some rescues are trying to maintain a small level of income by selling items on eBay, so please look out for listings with the 'Charity ribbon' which benefit animal rescue organisations.  

Food Banks: When shopping, please consider buying an extra box, packet or tin of pet food to donate to your local food bank. Most supermarkets have a food bank donation box, or you can find out where your local food banks are from your local authority. There will be people on the lowest incomes already struggling who might otherwise feel they must relinquish their cat to a shelter if they can no longer feed them. Some areas have dedicated Pet Food Banks which you can donate to, to help families in need who are struggling to feed their pets.

Neutering: The other way you can help ease the pressure on rescue centres is to make sure your cats (both male and female) are neutered. The fewer unwanted kittens that need to come into rescue during these challenging times, the better. Vets are currently able to book routine apointments again, including neutering. So, if you have an adult cat who is not yet neutered, we would advise that you book them in for the procedure as soon as possible, and keep them indoors until they are neutered or spayed, so that they don't add to the cat population. For details about neutering and low-cost options visit our Neutering Information page.

Emergency Funding for Rescues

Emergency grant funds have been set up around the country to help support smaller charities and not-for-profit organisations through the coronavirus crisis. If your organisation is struggling financially due to loss of income due to coronavirus, we recommend searching online for funds in your local area. Your local authority should also have details of what emergency funding is available. Other funds & resources we are aware of are:

UK Wide: 
Giving Grid for Animals - Free fundraising tool for rescues impacted by COVID-19: www.givinggrid.com/uhrescue
UK Wide:
Charities with support shops: Grants for charity properties in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount: www.charitytaxgroup.org.uk/coronavirus-information-hub
UK Wide: Civil Society list of funding available to charities during the Covid-19 pandemic: www.civilsociety.co.uk/charity-funding
UK Wide: 
Coronavirus funders list compiled & updated by Ian McLintock: linkedin.com/pulse/coronavirus-charity-funding
UK Wide: 
National Lottery Community Fund - funding organisations affected by Covid-19 over the next 6 months: tnlcommunityfund.org.uk

Further Information

Covid-19 guidance for the general public
Advice for Cat Owners (International Cat Care): Covid-19 Advice for Cat Owners
NHS advice: NHS Guidance - Coronavirus (COVID-19).
​Mutual Aid UK, Local groups helping vulnerable people across the UK: covidmutualaid.org
Age UK, help for older people: www.ageuk.org.uk
Self Isolating? PDSA Advice on Self Isolating with Pets
Self Isolating? RSPCA Advice on Self Isolating with Pets
RSPCA current adoption process: www.rspca.org.uk/rehomeapet
Cats Protection services: www.cats.org.uk/coronavirus
Blue Cross current adoption process: www.bluecross.org.uk/our-rehoming-process
British Veterinary Association (BVA): (Covid-19): What We Know So Far

Covid-19 guidance for rescue & rehoming organisations and catteries
Advice for Rehoming Centres (ADCH): Guidance for Rehoming Organisations
Advice for Rehoming Centres (International Cat Care): Advice for Rescue Centres
Advice on TNR / Feral Colony Management (International Cat Care): Advice for TNR / Feral Colony Management
Advice for Boarding Catteries (International Cat Care): icatcare.org/covid-19-boarding-catteries
British Veterinary Association (BVA): (Covid-19): What We Know So Far


Keep Safe • Stay Well • Fuss Your Cats!