Scientific research has revealed that cats can become infected with the virus when exposed to people or other cats that have tested positive for Covid-19.
This is the study of Japanese and American scientists, who have shown that cats can be infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19; and in turn can manage to transmit the virus to other cats. This, despite the fact that they may be asymptomatic.
The research was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Scientists inserted the virus isolated from one person into three cats. The next day, the specialists took a nasal sample from the cats, and managed to discover the presence of the virus in two of the animals. After three days, they realized that the virus was in all of them.
Spreading of the virus in cats
After 24 hours, after the scientists administered the virus to the first three cats, they decided to add a cat to each of the cages. The researchers did not administer the COVID-19 virus to these cats.
Over the days, the scientists took nasal and rectal samples from all six cats to test for the virus. After two days, one of the previously uninfected cats was shedding the virus detected on the nasal swab, and within six days, all the cats were shedding the virus.
It should be noted that none of the rectal swabs contained the virus. Each cat released SARS-CoV-2 from its nostrils for up to six days. This showed that the virus was not lethal and none of the cats showed any signs of disease. All the cats subsequently shed the virus.
“That was an important discovery for us… the cats had no symptoms”; says Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin, USA. The discovery suggests that cats may be able to become infected with the virus when exposed to people or other cats that are positive for SARS-CoV-2.
“It’s something people need to be aware of. If they are quarantined in their home and are concerned about transmitting the COVID-19 to their children and spouses, they should also be concerned about giving it to their animals”; said one of the scientists, Peter Halfmann.
The study was able to experimentally confirm that cats can become infected, although the risk of natural infection from exposure to SARS-CoV-2 “appears to be quite low.
Of the 22 specimens used in the study, none tested positive for the polymerase chain reaction virus.
“Cats are still much more likely to receive COVID-19 from humans, rather than from a cat”; said Keith Poulsen, director of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.
Para todos mis pacientes con gatos. La infección por SARS-CoV-2 causante de COVID-19 puede estar en sus gatos y les recomiendo si Uds están infectados no estar en contacto con sus mascotas.
Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Domestic Cats | NEJM https://t.co/Q7RO5AHg02
— Dr Jose Arturo Martinez-Orozco. Mexico City (@DrArturoInfecto) May 14, 2020
Todos los días aprendemos con el #COVID19. en @NEJM se publica la transmisión entre gatos de SARS-CoV-2. Aunque todos los gatos permanecieron Asintomáticos, el experimento demostró la transmisión del virus, producción de anticuerpos y cultivo viral. https://t.co/fbbBuPfdis pic.twitter.com/U9kuHEc0F7
— Carlos Arturo Álvarez Moreno (@AlvarezMorenoC) May 14, 2020