I debated writing more about the two pet cats from New York that tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 that I wrote about on the weekend. I was surprised how little attention the initial report got, but now that the USDA has issued a report confirming the cats’ test results, the story is getting picked up widely.  There’s not too much new to report, but here are the highlights:

  • SARS-CoV-2 was found 2 pet cats in New York, from separate households.
  • Both had mild upper respiratory tract disease, as is probably the norm for cats that develop clinical infection from the virus.  Both cats are expected to recover fully.
  • Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the story is there was no clear source of the virus for one cat. The conclusion was “The virus may have been transmitted to this cat by mildly ill or asymptomatic household members or through contact with an infected person outside its home.” Hopefully there was an asymptomatic infection in a person in the household, since a cat picking it up from casual contact with someone outside the home raises some concerns.
  • The other cat was from a known COVID-19 positive household, so no surprise there.

I’ll wrap up this update with the exact same points from the first post about these cats:

  • If you’re infected, limit contact with people and pets.
  • If your pet is exposed, keep it in the house with you.
  • If your pet is exposed and is sick, talk to your veterinarian to see if it actually needs to be seen at a clinic.
  • If the pet of someone with COVID-19 has to leave the house (e.g. to go to a veterinary clinic for medical care), precautions need to be taken to reduce the risk of exposing other people or animals.
  • If you socially distance your pet(s) in the same way you should be socially distancing yourself from other people, there is basically no chance they will bring this virus into the household.

The other update is about the Bronx Zoo lion that I just wrote about this morning.  The Bronx Zoo issued a release today that provides some interesting information about the lion and answered some of my earlier questions.  The release states:

Samples for testing from the tiger, Nadia, were collected from her nose, throat, and respiratory tract while she was under anesthesia. Subsequently, we can confirm that the three other tigers in Tiger Mountain and the three African lions that exhibited a cough have also tested positive for COVID-19.  This testing was done by using a fecal sample test developed by our laboratory partners that does not require the animals be placed under anesthesia. The fecal tests confirmed our suspicion that all seven cats had the infection, and also determined that one tiger at Tiger Mountain that never developed a cough was also positive for the disease…

…All eight cats continue to do well.  They are behaving normally, eating well, and their coughing is greatly reduced.

We tested the tigers and lions out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world’s continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus. The testing of these cats was done in veterinary laboratories and resources used did not take from those being used for human testing.

None of the zoo’s snow leopards, cheetahs, clouded leopard, Amur leopard, puma or serval are showing any signs of illness. Our cats were infected by a staff person who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms. Preventive measures are now in place for all staff who are caring for them, and the other cats in our four WCS zoos, to prevent further exposure of any of our felids in our zoos to the disease…