As we are all aware, the COVID-19 situation changes daily, making it difficult to present the most recent information in a printed monthly newsletter. However, we believe it’s important that we help you understand a few important points.
Domestic cats can be infected by SARS-CoV-2. In spite of the high prevalence of infections in humans, at the time of this article, only two U.S. domestic cats and one U.S. dog, a German Shepherd, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 (all in New York state).
“At this point, there’s no evidence that cats can transmit the virus to people, although there is circumstantial and some experimental evidence that humans can serve as sources of infection for cats,” says Bruce Kornreich, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, Director of the Cornell Feline Health Center and Editor-in-Chief of CatWatch. “We also know that cats can transmit the virus to other cats,” he says.
There’s no reason to abandon your cats as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, but it would be wise to isolate cats from any person or animal diagnosed with COVID-19 or demonstrating symptoms consistent with this disease, and we recommend keeping all cats inside to avoid other cats (we have always recommended keeping cats indoors anyway).
It is not possible to predict with absolute certainty whether SARS-CoV-2 will ultimately be shown to be transmissible from cats to humans, and intense investigation of this potential and other aspects of COVID-19 are ongoing. It’s important to note, however, there are other viral respiratory diseases that cats are susceptible to that they cannot transmit to humans. At this time, the CDC is not recommending routine testing of pets for COVID-19.
For more up-to-date information: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/pets.html and www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/coronavirus-update.