Kill all the cats, pandemic ministers told
MINIsTeRs discussed exterminating all the cats in Britain because of fears they could spread coronavirus, a former health minister revealed last night.
Lord Bethell admitted the idea was considered at the highest levels of government. There are 11 million domestic cats in UK households, and studies have shown that hundreds of thousands are likely to have caught Covid-19 during the pandemic.
But there was only one recorded case of cat-to-human transmission in the world. Lord Bethell, a health minister during the pandemic, told Channel 4 News: ‘There was an idea at one moment that we might have to ask the public to exterminate all the cats in Britain.
‘Can you imagine what would have happened if we had wanted to do that, and yet, for a moment, there was a bit of evidence around that so that had to be investigated and closed down.’
A study published last year suggested that at least 350,000 cats in Britain caught
Covid over the course of the pandemic. virologists from the University of Glasgow found that one in 30 samples were positive for Covid antibodies, with the highest levels of infection occurring around Christmas 2021, when one in 20 cats tested positive.
experts say cats do not shed the virus in large quantities, and throughout the pandemic there was only one documented case of a human catching Covid from a cat. A ten-year- old tabby in Thailand caught the virus from its owners and then sneezed in a vet’s face. The vet, the owners and their cat all made a full recovery.