Coronavirus can destroy companion animals’ sense of smell

A short article in The Sunday Times refers to a research paper in the Canadian Journal “Vector Borne and Zoonotic Diseases”. The research says that, “Contrary to earlier assertions by health agencies that the virus could not cause illness in pets, the cat developed both respiratory and enteric [intestinal] symptoms and took nine days to recover”.

Cat tested for coronavirus through fever check
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Detroit News: Owner of Caturday Cafe Arisa Limpanawongsanon checks the temperature of a cat at Caturday Cafe in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday. Photo: Sakchai Lalit, AP

The new research indicates that the disease in animals could cause them to lose their sense of smell. We know that one of the symptoms of the disease in humans is to lose a sense of smell. In fact, this is quite a common symptom amongst a range of signs of an infection.

Without in any way wishing to promote unnecessary anxiety (and people should not be anxious about this) the researchers warned that if companion animals are found capable of carrying the disease even without symptoms they could be a “a reservoir of infection contributing to continued human-to-human disease, infectivity, and community spread”. Although at present all the reports are of humans infecting companion animals not the other way around.

There is a possibility that it could become established in livestock said a team led by Tracey McNamara, a professor of pathology at Western University of Health Services’ College of Veterinary Medicine in California.

The risk concerning companion animals is low as confirmed by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). An interesting development, though, is that specialist dogs trained to detect drugs or explosives risk losing their sense of smell and therefore there jobs at least temporarily. I hadn’t thought about that prospect before now.

Comment: this is the first time I have read a report which specifically refers to symptoms in domestic cats which are very similar to those in humans because in the past references have been to very mild and low-level symptoms. A Bronx Zoo tiger had similar symptoms.

Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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