Cats can readily become infected with and transmit coronavirus

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Domestic Cats.


According to a new study by the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, cats can become infected with coronavirus and can pass it to other cats.

Scientists administered to three cats who got infected from a human patient. The next day, the analysts swabbed the nasal passages of the acts and had the option to distinguish the infection in two of the animals. Within three days, they determined the virus in all of the cats.

When scientists detected the virus in cats, they placed another cat in each of their cages. Researchers did not administer the SARS-CoV-2 virus to these cats.

Every day, the specialists took nasal and rectal swabs from each of the six cats to evaluate them for the presence of the virus. Within two days, one of the previously uninfected cats was shedding virus, recognized in the nasal swab. In six days, all of the cats were found to be infected. None of the rectal swabs contained the virus.

Each cat shed SARS-CoV-2 from their nasal passages for as long as six days. However, the virus was not deadly, and none of the cats showed the symptoms of illness. What’s more, all of the cats eventually cleared the virus.

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

Peter Halfmann, a research professor at UW-Madison who helped lead the study, said, “It’s something for people to keep in mind. If they are quarantined in their house and are worried about passing COVID-19 to children and spouses, they should also worry about giving it to their animals.”

Based on the findings, scientists suggest that people with symptoms of COVID-19 should avoid contact with cats. They also advise pet owners to keep their pets indoors.

What should pet owners do?

Ruthanne Chun, associate dean for clinical affairs at UW Veterinary Care, offers the following advice:

  • If your pet lives indoors with you and is not in contact with any COVID-19-positive individual, it is safe to pet, cuddle, and interact with your pet.
  • If you are COVID-19 positive, you should limit interactions with your pets to protect them from exposure to the virus.
  • Additional guidance on managing pets in homes where people are sick with COVID-19 is available from the American Veterinary Medical Association and CDC, including in this FAQ from AVMA.

Journal Reference:

  1. Peter J. Halfmann, Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Domestic Cats. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2013400