Domestic cats may rescue humankind from this coronavirus nightmare

The thing about domestic cats which is of interest to scientists is that they can become infected with Covid-19 but that they get over the disease very quickly and when they have the disease their symptoms are mild or they are asymptomatic (without signs of the disease). If humans could respond this well when infected with this damnable disease it would release us from social distancing rules, lockdowns and a constant cycle of government directives to save us. Humans could treat coronavirus as a common cold and get on with life.

Pretty Maine Coon cat
Pretty Maine Coon cat. Photo: Helmi Flick.
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The domestic cat’s response to the virus is almost as if they’ve been vaccinated. The new vaccinations currently being distributed (e.g. Pfizer) don’t prevent infection. They reduce the body’s response to the point where the symptoms are so mild as to be unnoticed. This is a reflection, it seems to me, of the domestic cat’s response.

That’s why scientists in Latvia, Europe, are having a good look at the progression of coronavirus in cats. Prof. Kaspar Kovalenko of the Veterinary Medicine Faculty at Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technology said that if cats do show symptoms it is only for two or three days and they show excellent signs of recovery.

It is theorised that cats inherit a naturally strong immune response to this virus. The scientists appear to be looking at a genetic factor as to why this happens. No cats in Latvia have tested positive although cats have been found to possess antibodies in their blood stream indicating that they been exposed to the disease.

Domestic cats are a natural subject to be investigated because they are in close proximity to their human caregivers who can contract the disease and pass it onto them. Let’s remember that Covid-19 is a zoonotic disease which means that it can be transmitted from animal to person and vice versa.

The researchers have selected 130 cats from animal shelters and from homes where people had tested positive for Covid-19. It is hoped that they might find the secret to the domestic cat’s immunity against this disease which can then be used by humans to strengthen their response.

The vaccines that are coming out are not a silver bullet. I think people thought that they would be but is not going to happen that way. A lot of people won’t take the vaccine because they are frightened of it and it will take a long time to distribute vaccines across whole nations. It will take a long time (6 months minimum) for the beneficial impact of vaccines to be noticeable in societies so in the meantime we are reliant upon social distancing and other rules together with better treatments when people get the disease. That’s why this sort of research is very important and it may be that the domestic cat comes to the rescue of humankind. If they do it will be another feather in the cap of domestic cats.

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