Health Canada has issued a warning about the risk of infection from cats in Ontario, following a study that found many residents were at risk for catching the deadly coronavirus.
A study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information found the number of cats in the province has more than doubled in the past two years, and the rate of deaths has risen.
“If you think of all the things we’ve got to do to protect our cats and to reduce their risk of contracting this virus, that’s what this study tells us to do,” said Dr. Jennifer Dube, chief medical officer at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
“And I think it’s something that we need to consider.”
The government is currently working on plans to expand the scope of cat training classes in the Ontario capital, with the goal of offering up to 30 to 60 cat training courses per year, which could cost as much as $10,000.
Dube said she expects to announce a national cat training program sometime in the next year.
In Ontario, cats are allowed to be petted and groomed in their own territory, but there are restrictions on how much they can be released into the wild.
The number of people contracting the coronaviruses has more recently spiked in parts of the country, as more people are opting for the more expensive and effective vaccine.DUBE said the risk is similar to people who have contracted the disease in their home country, and they will need to learn how to avoid touching their pets.
“They’ll have to learn to keep pets safe and secure, because that’s really the difference between getting the vaccine and getting the coronaval disease,” Dube said.
In many parts of Ontario, cat ownership is still a taboo subject, and Dube believes it’s time for more people to learn the safety of keeping cats indoors.
“You know, it’s really not like this new disease that we have in this country where everybody’s petting their cat and they’re having fun,” she said.
“We know the risk for the public, and I think the public really needs to get their heads out of the sand and really take the first step in protecting themselves.”