A stray cat, suspected to be infected with the fatal coronavirus, faces the threat of deportation to China after it landed at the southern Indian port of Chennai around 20 days ago.
The stowaway cat is believed to have arrived from China in a container via the sea route. Amidst the rise of coronavirus cases in India, the cat is caught in a crossfire between Indian authorities and the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who are now demanding the immediate release of the cat.
On Tuesday, confirmed coronavirus cases in India rose to six after two more, including a foreign tourist from Italy, tested positive for the virus. Two schools were shut down indefinitely in Noida, near the Indian capital Delhi, after some students partied with a man who tested positive for the virus.
Port authorities have kept the cat under quarantine
According to the news agency IANS, the Chennai port authorities found the cat while unloading goods.
Presently, the cat has been quarantined and placed under observation. The Chennai quarantine facility officials have recommended sending the cat back to China in the wake of the rising coronavirus threat.
However, PETA while demanding the immediate release of the cat, maintained that cats can neither contract nor transmit the virus spreading rapidly across the globe.
In a letter to the Chennai port authority, Rashmi Gokhale, PETA India's manager of veterinary services quoted the findings of the American Veterinary Medical Association, which states: "Multiple international health organisations have indicated that pets and other domestic animals are not considered at risk for contracting COVID-19."
PETA questions cat's country of origin
Stating thatit was not possible for the cat to survive a sea journey of almost 20 days from China without food or water, PETA said it was likely that the cat entered the vessel at some port where it was previously docked.
"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," said PETA
Raising concerns over the fate of the animal upon its deportation to China, a country where cats are preferred for their meat and fur, PETA offered to find a loving and permanent home for the cat in India. "It can be done as soon as the necessary quarantine health assessments and vaccinations have been completed," said PETA.
Support pours in for the cat on social media
Cat lovers in India were soon to offer their support to the quarantined cat on social media as voices for finding a suitable home for the animal grew loud.
"PETA India is still trying to save our stowaway. Cattitude, a top cat shelter in Chennai, is ready and willing to take her. PLEASE spread the word. Please let's not let her be deported. She survived against all odds. Cats and dogs CANNOT transmit coronavirus. Let her stay," tweeted one user.
"There's a scare in Chennai that a cat on an airplane from China has the virus. But most of what we already know shows that pets can't be infectious. Take a deep breath, read this and leave some water out for the doggies on the street. It's getting hot," wrote another.