The United States’ CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has just released two cases of coronavirus in domestic cats. These are the first two pet-positive animals in the United States.
The affected cats live in two different areas of the state of New York and both suffered from a mild respiratory illness. They are expected to recover soon.
During the pandemic, several cases of coronavirus-infected animals have occurred worldwide. Most of them had been in close contact with an infected person.
In the cases we are dealing with, the first of the felines was analysed by a veterinarian after showing mild respiratory signs. However, no one in the house confirmed being sick. What is believed is that someone slightly ill or even asymptomatic in the house infected the animal or an external person with the disease.
In the second of the coronavirus infected cats, samples were taken after evidence of respiratory disease. The owner had already tested positive for coronavirus before the pet showed signs. In this house lives a second cat that for the moment has shown no signs of illness.
The two infected animals tested positive for SARS-Cov-2 in a private veterinary laboratory, which reported the results to state and federal officials. The tests that confirmed infection were carried out in the NVSL (National Veterinary Services Laboratories) with additional samples. NVSL are used as an international reference laboratory providing expertise and guidance in diagnostic techniques as well as confirmatory testing for foreign and emerging animal diseases. The latter are mandatory in the United States for certain animal pathologies.
The CDC emphasises that there is currently no evidence that pets play any role in the spread of the coronavirus in the United States. Therefore, there is no justification for any measure against pet animals which could put their welfare at risk. More studies are needed to understand how different animals, including domestic animals, could be affected by the coronavirus. The US health authorities do not recommend testing them for the time being.
Until further information is available, the CDC has made these recommendations:
- Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the home.
- Keep cats inside to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
- Walk dogs on a leash while keeping a distance of at least two metres with other animals and people.
- Avoid dog parks or public spaces where a large number of people and dogs gather.
What if I have COVID-19?
- If you are infected with COVID-19 (either because it is suspected or because it has been confirmed with a test), restrict contact with the pet, as would be done with a person.
- If possible, it is preferable for another person in the house to take care of the pet.
- Avoid contact with the pet. This includes caressing, cuddling with the pet, letting the pet lick you and sharing food or bedding.
- If you have to take care of your pet or other animals alone, wear a mask and wash your hands before and after interacting with them.