Can cats get coronavirus?

People are asking Google whether domestic cats can get coronavirus and this is a good question. The answer, as at the date of this post, is not entirely clear. The world has one case of a companion animal ostensibly contracting coronavirus and that is companion dog whose owner is infected with the virus (covid-19). It is said that the dog tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong. However, health chiefs said that this was a “weak positive” which does not provide sufficient evidence that the virus can be transmitted to companion animals from their owners.

UPDATE: Since writing this 2 domestic cats in NY state, USA, contracted coronavirus from their owner or someone else (tested positive for Covid-19). They had weak symptoms and recovered as reported. Some big cats in Bronx Zoo also got coronavirus from a person or people presumed a zoookeeper. Can cats get coronavirus? YES is the answer. THE REMAINDER OF THIS POST WAS WRITTEN AT A TIME WHEN WE KNEW LESS. THE STORY IS STILL EVOLVING AND DEVELOPING.

What they mean, as I understand it, by a “weak positive” is that the city’s agriculture department took samples from the dog and found low levels of the virus in their mouth and nose. This would imply that the virus had not entered the bloodstream and therefore there were no symptoms. It may be the case that the virus had simply lodged itself in the mouth and nose because it was in the environment in the form of water droplets and had not migrated to the bloodstream and inside the animal. And therefore it could NOT be said (at this time) that the dog was infected and that the disease had been transmitted from the dog’s owner to the dog.

This companion animal has been placed in care and will be returned to his/her owner after subsequent tests are found to be negative. The world may therefore know more about possible covid-19 transmission to companion animals in the near furture. FYI: covid-19 is a zoonotic disease because it is firmly believed that it was spread to humans from a wild animal, possibly a pangolin, at Wuhan’s live animal market which has been closed. Pangolins have been slaughtered to near extinction by the Chinese desire to eat it because it is a delicacy and because it is used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Pangolin parts for sale at China market
Pangolin parts for sale at China market. Pic in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The current position, as I understand it, is that the World Health Organisation are saying that there is currently no evidence that companion animals can be infected with the virus. But this is work in progress and therefore there are demands from some quarters to keep companion animals in quarantine if there are fears that an animal might be infected.

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