Last night ProMed mail posted a brief report about two cats infected with SARS-CoV-2 in New York. It doesn’t give much detail:
“Two cats reportedly tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in New York. Both had owners who were COVID-19 positive, and both animals were reportedly exhibiting respiratory signs. Additional samples are [reportedly] being sent to NVSL [National Veterinary Services Laboratories] for confirmation.”
I’m surprised the information was released before official confirmation at the national lab (they’re not supposed to be), but presumably the test results are real.
What’s totally unsurprising is the fact that there are positive cats in households with positive people, or that the cats were sick. New York has lots of infected people, lots of people have cats and cats are susceptible. The risk posed by cats isn’t any greater than it was prior to this report, although some people are bound to freak out.
The messaging from me is exactly the same as it’s been for a couple months (and that’s becoming a pretty consistent message now that other groups have moved beyond ignoring the animal issues and focusing on common sense guidance):
- 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 ProMed report doesn’t indicate how sick the cats were. Presumably they were not very sick, based on the calls I’ve had with people about cats that developed respiratory disease after their owner had COVID-19. We’ve not been able to get samples from many animals because it’s logistically challenging without risking exposure of more people, but presumably at least some of these sick cats were infected with SARS-CoV-2, and most had relatively minor upper respiratory tract infections.