Cats and COVID-19
Coronaviruses are viruses that can cause several symptoms. These include difficulty breathing, a runny nose, cough, sore throat, and fever. There are also additional less common symptoms, such as digestive issues including nausea and diarrhea. Some cases of coronavirus are mild and others can be more severe, causing pneumonia and often the need for a ventilator.
Are there Coronaviruses that Affect Animals?
Coronaviruses are common in several domestic and wild animals. Cattle, horses, dogs, cats, ferrets, camels, and bats are common animals infected with the virus. There have been multiple cases of cats that test positive for COVID-19. Several cats in New York tested positive, including a tiger is a zoo in New York. A cat in Belgium had a case of a positive test. There have been cases where domestic cats that have been infected have been shown to infect other infected cats.
Can Cats Infect Humans with COVID-19?
Can cats infect humans with COVID-19 or can humans infect cats? There was information in the New England Journal of Medicine that cats can transmit the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 to other domestic cats. Further study is needed. Studies also need to be conducted to determine whether cats can transmit the virus to humans. Most evidence does not show this to be the case. There have been cases where it is believed that cats contracted COVID-19 from humans. The CDC that “at this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread the virus or that they may be a source of infection in the United States.” There have been reported cases of humans infecting tigers, lions, and domestic cats. A tiger in the Bronx Zoo was infected with the virus after coming into contact with a zoo employee who had the virus.
Can Cats Become Ill From Covid-19?
Similar to humans that are infected with COVID-19, some cats show signs of respiratory illness. Others test positive and show no symptoms. In cases where cats either show symptoms of the virus or test positive, they have been in contact with people that have tested positive for the virus. Since there is evidence that your cat can contract COVID-19 from humans, it would be wise not to let your cat be handled by people outside your household. Social distancing may be needed for our furry felines as well! If you are sick with COVID-19, ask a healthy person to take care of your cat. Cats that have shown symptoms of the virus and tested positive have mild symptoms and there are no known cases of any pets dying from the virus.
Treating Your Cat to Prevent COVID-19
There is no current vaccine to protect your cat against COVID-19. Discuss with your vet the necessity of vaccinating your cat for Bordetella and parainfluenza. These vaccines are the most common vaccines used to prevent respiratory disease in cats.
Any cat that tests positive for COVID-19 should be isolated from both humans and other domestic animals. Do not use any products on your pet that are not approved for animal use. Consult with your veterinarian. Wear gloves when cleaning up after your pet and place all litterbox waste in a sealed bag before disposing of it. Wash your hands with soap and water immediately after cleaning up after your cat. Although there is a low chance you will be infected with COVID-19 from your cat, better to be safe than sorry. If your cat is symptomatic for COVID-19, ask your veterinarian about testing your cat.