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A cat on a ship is now at the centre of coronavirus scare in Chennai

Dr Rashmi Gokhale, the manager of veterinary services for PETA India, wrote a letter to the Chief Commissioner of Customs at Chennai, seeking the fostering of the cat which was found inside a container aboard a Chinese vessel on February 17.

Written by Shivani Ramakrishnan | Chennai | Updated: March 4, 2020 6:31:55 pm
coronavirus, chennai cat, chennai cat coronavirus, peta, coronavirus cases in india, coronavirus india, coronavirus death toll The cat was discovered by port authorities at Chennai during a routine inspection by the Commissionerate of Customs. (Photo by iStock/Getty Images Plus/Representational Image)

At least two weeks after a stowaway cat aboard a Chinese vessel created a flutter in Chennai, the feline has found itself in the limelight again after animal welfare NGO, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India began batting for the release of the cat which is due for deportation soon.

Dr Rashmi Gokhale, the manager of veterinary services for PETA India, wrote a letter to the Chief Commissioner of Customs at Chennai, seeking the fostering of the cat which was found inside a container aboard a Chinese vessel on February 17. The cat was discovered by port authorities at Chennai during a routine inspection by the Commissionerate of Customs. Follow Coronavirus outbreak LIVE Updates

In her letter, Rashmi asked the chief commissioner to allow PETA India to foster the cat once the necessary quarantine, health assessment and vaccination procedures were completed.

“According to the report, an official at the Chennai quarantine facility stated that it would recommend sending the animal back to the suspected country of origin. However, it would be very difficult to establish where the cat embarked the vessel. It is highly unlikely that the animal would have survived the 10-20 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 its stopping points. Any effort to deport the animal to a location this isn’t his or her home would only jeopardise the animal’s health and welfare, and no one would be taking responsibility for his or her care,” PETA said in the letter. While the cat was found aboard the vessel, naval authorities are yet to determine where the feline might have boarded the ship from.

PETA stated in the letter that the NGO had contacted the Animal Quarantine and Certification Services (AQCS) in Chennai, who confirmed that the cat would be deported since it did not have the ‘required legal permits’ to enter the country.

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The manager stressed that scientific studies had proven that cats cannot transmit the deadly disease. “World Health Organisation advice titled ‘WHO Recommendations to Reduce Risk of Transmission of Emerging Pathogens From Animals to Humans in Live Animal Markets’ confirms that no particular case of the coronavirus has been reported in any species other than humans. The American Veterinary Medicine Association states on its website, ‘Multiple international health organizations have indicated that pets and other domestic animals are not considered at risk for contracting COVID-19’,” the letter read.

PETA stated that since the cat is healthy, allowing the feline to remain in the country would not pose any risk of transmission. “I therefore request that you direct the relevant authorities to allow PETA India to take responsibility for fostering the cat until a loving, permanent home can be found for the animal, as soon as the necessary quarantine health assessments and vaccinations have been completed”, PETA said.

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PETA further said that The Cattitude Trust, a NGO in Chennai which works on sensitising people towards the welfare of cats, had indicated their willingness to conduct a health assessment of the cat.

Speaking to indianexpress.com, sources at PETA India said that the cat will be put up for adoption within India. “We are still waiting to hear from the port authorities”, they said.

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