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Can Cats Get COVID-19?

Learn about COVID-19 in cats.

Original Article: March 16, 2020, updated May 8: This is a rapidly evolving situation, and we will update this article as needed.

As the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, spreads across the world, many people worry about their pets and whether they can get or spread the virus.

Can Cats Get Coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that include many strains. Most of them are species-specific, and some infect cats. Feline infectious peritonitis, a common, serious illness in cats, is caused by a coronavirus.

In humans, coronaviruses cause respiratory illness, with a range of upper respiratory symptoms like sore throat, sneezing, coughing, and fever.

Sometimes, a coronavirus will jump from an animal species to humans, and scientists believe SARS-CoV-2 jumped from bats, possibly through a second animal species.

For up-to-date news on animals and COVID-19, including information about the positive tigers at Bronx Zoo and the American Veterinary Medical Association's interpretations and recommendations based on current data, check here: AVMA COVID-19 Info.

Can Cats Get COVID-19?

Around the world, there have been a handful of cats test positive for COVID-19. Big cats in the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the virus and showed respiratory signs. Additionally, two house cats in New York tested positive, one with a positive owner in the home and one without.

At the end of February, two dogs in China, both living with people who had COVID-19, tested positive for the virus. However, the dogs never became sick.

What do the positives in the dogs mean? They could mean a couple of things. Either the dogs contracted the virus but it is not able to replicate in pets to the degree necessary to cause illness and be spread, or the virus was simply present in the dogs' nasal cavities because they had touched it in their environment.

What do the positives in the cats mean? It appears as though some cats can contract COVID-19 and develop mild illness. Authorities say there is no evidence cats can spread the virus to humans and that transmission likely happened the other way around, from owner to pet. At this time, the AVMA and CDC have not changed their recommendations regarding pets and the virus, which are noted in the next section. Please click the link in the highlighted box for up-to-date information from the AVMA.

What Should You Do with Your Cat If You Are Positive for COVID-19?

World health authorities, at this time, recommend you take common-sense precautions and use proper hygiene where your pets are concerned if you are infected with the novel coronavirus. That means washing your hands a lot and avoiding close contact with your cat as much as possible. This should be done out of an abundance of caution and because this is an evolving situation.

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