Cats can contract and pass on novel coronavirus

Cats can contract the novel coronavirus and can spread it to healthy cats. Credit: Artis Logins

In a laboratory experiment, researchers recently found that cats can become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19, and may be able to pass it to other cats.

In the study, researchers from the U.S. and Japan administered the virus to three cats. Then, the team swabbed the cats’ nasal passages to test for SARS-CoV-2. Within three days, they detected the virus in all three of the cats.

The following day, the researches placed another cat without the virus in each of the cages. They took nasal and rectal swabs from all six cats. Within two days, the nasal swab of one of the previously uninfected cats showed it was shedding the virus.

“That was a major finding for us — the cats did not have symptoms,” said Professor of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine Yoshihiro Kawaoka, who led the study.

These findings suggest cats may be able to become infected with the virus when they’re exposed to other cats or people that are positive for SARS-CoV-2. The research follows a study that showed that cats and ferrets could become infected with the novel virus.

The researchers advise that people with symptoms of COVID-19 avoid contact with cats and keep their cats indoors.

Read the story in the University of Wisconsin-Madison News and read the study in The New England Journal of Medicine.