Cats Can Become Infected With COVID-19: Study

Cats can become infected with corona. Cats are our beloved pets but scientists in the Japan and U.S. report that in the laboratory, cats can readily become infected with SARS-CoV-2 is published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This virus causes COVID-19 and may be able to pass the virus to other cats.

The day after the researchers administered infection to the first three cats, they placed another cat in each of their cages. Researchers did not apply SARS-CoV-2 virus to these cats.

Each day, the researchers took rectal and nasal swabs from all six cats to assess them for the presence of the virus. Within three days, one of the previously uninfected cats was shedding virus, detected in the nasal swab, and within six days, all of the cats were shedding virus. None of the rectal swabs contained the virus.

The cat shed SARS-CoV-2 from their nasal passages for up to six days. The virus was not lethal, and no cats showed signs of illness. All of the cats ultimately cleared the infection

“That was a major finding for us — the cats did not have symptoms,” says Kawaoka. He is a faculty appointment at the University of Tokyo. He is helping lead an effort to create a human COVID-19 vaccine called CoroFlu.

“It’s something for people to keep in mind,” says Peter Halfmann, a research professor at UW–Madison who helped lead the study. “If they are quarantined in their house and are worried about passing COVID-19 to children and spouses, they should also worry about giving it to their animals.”

Both researchers have advised that people having symptoms of COVID-19 avoid contact with cats. They advise cat owners to keep their pets indoors, to limit the contact their cats have with other people and animals.

Humans remain the most significant risk to other humans in the transmission of the virus. There is no evidence of cats readily transmitting the virus to humans. There are no documented proofs in which humans have become infected with COVID-19 because of contact with cats.

There are confirmed cases of feline becoming infected because of close contact with humans infected with the virus, and many large cats at the Bronx Zoo have also tested positive for the virus.

Animal welfare organizations are working hard in this crisis to maintain the human-animal bond and keep pets with their people. It’s very panic time for everyone, and now, more than ever, people need the comfort and support that pets provide.

It’s something. People should keep in mind. If they are quarantined in the house and are worried about passing COVID-19 to children and spouses, they should also worry about giving it to their animals.

Felines are more likely to get COVID-19 from humans, rather than you get it from a cat. Pet owners must talk to their veterinarians about whether to have their animals tested. Testing should be concentrated on populations of cats and other species shown to be susceptible to the virus and virus transmission.

Companion and pet animals in communal residences with at-risk populations, like nursing homes and assisted living facilities. There is a thin balance of needing more information by testing with the limited resources and clinical implications of positive tests.

What should pet owners do?

Ruthanne Chun, who is an associate dean for clinical affairs at UW Veterinary Care, offers the following advice:

  • If your pet lives indoors with you and is not in contact with any COVID-19 positive individual, it is safe to pet, cuddle and interact with your pet.
  • If you are COVID-19 positive, you should limit interactions with your pets to protect them from exposure to the virus.

Additional guidance on managing pets in homes where people are sick with COVID-19 is available from the American Veterinary Medical Association and CDC, which you can refer anytime.