The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratories have just confirmed two separate cases of SARS-CoV-2 — the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 — in pet cats in New York state.
These are the first cats to test positive in the United States, although cats (and dogs) in other countries have tested positive and a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for the virus.
According to a release from the CDC, both cats — who live in separate parts of the state — had "mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery."
The first cat was tested after showing mild respiratory signs, but none of the individuals in the pet's household had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The CDC says, "The virus may have been transmitted to this cat by mildly ill or asymptomatic household members or through contact with an infected person outside its home."
The second cat was tested after showing signs of respiratory illness. That cat's owner did test positive for COVID-19 prior to the cat testing positive. A second cat in that household is not showing any signs of the disease.
The CDC has some new recommendations in regards to keeping your pets safe:
- Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
- Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
- Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
- Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
And if you get sick with COVID-19, keep your pets safe by:
- Having another member of your household care for them while you're sick.
- Avoid petting, snuggling or kissing them or letting them lick you, and don't share food or bedding.
- If you do have to be around your pet or care for them while you're sick, make sure you wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after interacting with them.
Also, there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the U.S., "therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare," says the CDC. Don't be a dick and get rid of your pets, or hurt your pets.
And it is important to note that animal testing for COVID-19 does not reduce testing availability for humans. Any new confirmations of SARS-CoV-2 found in animals will be posted on the USDA site.