In April, zoo keepers at the Bronx Zoo noticed that some of their lions and tigers were coughing. They tested the animals for COVID-19 and found that eight had caught the virus that was causing the coronavirus outbreak in New York City. It seems that the lions and tigers caught the virus from a zoo employee who was caring for them but didn’t yet have symptoms. Around the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, better known as the CDC, announced that two pet cats living in different parts of New York had also tested positive for the virus after showing “respiratory symptoms.” All of the animals were said to have mild cases and recovered.
Now, a new study proves that cats can become infected with the virus and pass it on to other cats. Researchers infected three cats with virus taken from a human patient. Each of the cats caught the virus. Each was then placed in a cage with an uninfected cat, and all the companion cats also caught the virus. The researchers found virus growing in the cats’ noses. Interestingly, none of the cats had symptoms—no cough, no fever, no weight loss—and all fought off the virus eventually.
So what should cat owners do? Veterinarians recommend being careful to avoid passing COVID-19 to their pets as well as their other family members if they become sick. Also, cats should stay indoors so they can’t catch the virus or spread it to others (animals or people) in the neighborhood.
- News release: Study confirms cats can become infected with COVID-19 and may transmit it to other cats
- Research article: Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in domestic cats
- News article: Lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo caught COVID-19
- CDC news release: Confirmation of COVID-19 in pet cats in New York