The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) and the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) announced on Wednesday [22 April] the first confirmed COVID-19 cases in two pet cats.
These are the first pets in the United States to test positive for the coronavirus. The cats live in two separate areas of New York state.
In the case of the first cat announced on Wednesday, a veterinarian tested the first cat after it showed mild respiratory illness signs. No individuals in the household were confirmed to be ill with COVID-19. The virus may have been transmitted to this cat through contact with an infected person outside its home.
Samples from the second cat were taken after it also showed signs of respiratory illness. The owner of the cat tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the cat showing signs. Another cat in the household has shown no signs of illness.
Both felines had mild respiratory illnesses and are expected to make a full recovery. COVID-19 infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, mostly in those that had close contact with a person infected with COVID-19.
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 23, 2020
Public health officials are still learning about the coronavirus, but there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States. Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals, including pets, could be affected.
While additional animals may test positive as infections continue in people, it is important to note that performing this animal testing does not reduce the availability of tests for humans.