Stray cat that boarded ship to India could be deported back to China over coronavirus fears

A cat suspected to be infected with coronavirus is at the centre of a controversy as People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has demanded the release of the cat; which faces deportation from the Chennai port to China, where cats are killed for meat and fur.

A stowaway cat, which arrived in a container from China more than 20 days ago, has been held at the Chennai port and is now facing deportation to China – where it is unlikely to survive – all because of ignorance over the coronavirus.

In response, PETA India’s manager of veterinary services, Rashmi Gokhale, sent a letter to the Chennai port authority stating that it has been scientifically established that cats cannot contract or transmit COVID-19.

The American Veterinary Medical Association states on its website, “Multiple international health organisations have indicated that pets and other domestic animals are not considered at risk for contracting COVID-19.”

The Chennai quarantine facility recommended sending the animal back to its suspected country of origin.

PETA pointed out that it would be very difficult to establish where the cat entered the vessel. It said that it is highly unlikely that the animal would have survived the 10 to 20-day journey from China to India without food and water.

Ships destined for Chennai from China reportedly dock in Singapore, Colombo, and elsewhere, and containers are opened to offload goods, so the cat could have entered the ship at any of the stopping points. In China, cats are often killed for meat or fur, and it’s likely that the animal would be treated cruelly upon arrival, PETA said.

PETA India has offered to help the relevant authorities by finding the cat a loving, permanent home in India, which can be done as soon as the necessary quarantine health assessments and vaccinations have been completed.