The COVID-19 outbreak changed so many things, but in a little known fact, officials in Great Britain deliberated seriously about whether to cull or exterminate all of Britain's 10.9 million pet cats because there were some early unfounded fears that cats were spreading the virus.

"Wow! Are you serious?" exclaimed Manny Maciel, New Bedford Animal Control Officer.

Does this shock you, too? There wasn't one person I could find who ever heard of this or knew anything about it.

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According to Britain's Channel 4 News, former health minister Lord Bethell said yes, the government briefly considered doing this because of the false fear that cats were spreaders of the deadly virus. The minister showed how ignorant the world was about the virus at the beginning of 2020.

"What we shouldn't forget is how little we understood about this disease. There was a moment we were very unclear about whether domestic pets could transmit the disease," he said. "In fact, 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 wanted to do that?"


Almost as astonishing is that it took leaked information before the public was told. The news came only after over 100,000 official WhatsApp messages were leaked to media.

"Oh my God," Maciel said. "I never knew about this specific story, but in a seminar, we were told all about one of the saddest events in British history when 750,000 cats, dogs, mink, hamsters and other pets were euthanized at the start of World War II. That was gut-wrenching enough, but we totally lost it when they said the pet's owners had to put them down."

Maybe the owners felt that their beloved pets would be better off being euthanized before the bombs rained down, scaring the pet to no end because of the unimaginable fear?

"We don't think about these wars as something more than just a people's war," Maciel said.

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