COVID-19 Can Infect Cats & They Can Transmit It To Other Cats

Unsplash / Andrew Umansky

In a report released from Reuters on April 8th, 2020, a new study has found that the common house cat can not only become infected with the Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, but they can also transmit it to each other.

But can they transmit it to humans? 

Well, that is unknown at the current moment. Because of the study that proves cats can become infected with the virus (different from just having the virus particles on them), the World Health Organization has committed to investigating if the cats can then transmit and infect humans with the virus.

Veterinarians are recommending for pet owners to keep their cats indoors for the time being to reduce any exposure to the virus.

The president of the British Veterinary Association, Daniella Dos Santos, told the BBC that “An animal’s fur could carry the virus for the time if a pet were to come into contact with someone who was sick.” 

The study that was published in the journal Science, found that not only can felines contract and become infected with COVID-19, but ferrets can also become infected.

Currently, other household and farm animals like dogs, chickens, pigs, and ducks have been found to be unlikely to contract the virus.

The virus, officially called SARS-CoV-2, is believed to have been spread from bats to humans through a wet market in Wuhan, China. This new study showing cats’ ability to become infected is based on data from research conducted in January in China.

Just recently in the United States, several tigers in the Brox Zoo were discovered to have contracted the virus from a COVID-19-positive caretaker and some of them exhibited respiratory issues. All of the tigers are expected to make full recoveries.

With the data coming from this new study, it’s clear that cats can infect each other – which is likely how the disease spread from one tiger at the zoo to the other three.

The COVID-19 virus is spread between cats similarly to how it is spread between humans: through respiratory droplets. Cats infected with the disease were found to have the virus inside their mouths, noses, and small intestines.

Kittens who were exposed had “massive lesions” in their lungs, noses, and throats, says Reuters.

On Wednesday, April 8th, 2020, the WHO committed itself to investigate the study and its findings to discover when and how the virus can be transmitted between humans and their pets.

“We don’t believe that they are playing a role in transmission but we think that they may be able to be infected from an infected person,” WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said.

Additionally, an expert with the WHO asked people to not take action against animals in light of the study’s findings, saying:

“They’re beings in their own right and they deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. They are victims like the rest of us.”

Watch the Reuters video below along with a news report about the tigers and some interviews with some top American veterinarians.