In a disturbing development, two domestic cats have tested positive for Covid-19 in New York state. These are the first confirmed coronavirus cases in companion animals in the US reports the Daily Mail online. Officials said that the cats lived in two different parts of the state. This follows the report earlier of tigers and lions contracting the disease from humans in Bronx Zoo in New York City.
The cats presented with mild respiratory illnesses like feline colds. They are expected to recover and it is believed that they contracted the virus from people in their homes or in the neighbourhood.
In one of the households a person living there became ill a week before the cat contracted the virus. The person was not confirmed as having suffered from Covid-19. In the second household, the cat’s owner had tested positive for Covid-19 before the cat became sick. There are two cats in this home and the other cat showed no signs of illness.
The authorities say that it appears that animals can get the virus from people but at present there is no indication that animals can transmit it to human beings.
The consequence of this story may be far-reaching. There might well be more recommendations from the authorities about how we interact with our domestic cat companions. In the UK, the British Veterinary Association recommended that if a person tested positive for the virus they should keep their cat inside. In America it appears that the agencies are recommending that companion animal owners with Covid-19 should avoid petting, snuggling or having any other contact with the animals as much as is feasibly possible. They also suggest that people should wear a mask when caring for companion animals.
This is obviously a very difficult balancing act between not sending out a signal which causes people to panic while also preventing the spread of the disease. It’s very important that people do not become afraid of their companion animals and start believing that they can get the disease from them.
The authorities do not recommend that people rush out and get their animal tested for the virus unless, of course, the animal has symptoms of the disease. Veterinarians who treat a cat with these symptoms will contact the authorities to decide what to do. If an animal is tested it is carried out at a veterinary laboratory and the testing kit is different to that of humans apparently.
World Health Organisation epidemiologist Maria van Kerkhove said that her organisation does not believe that companion animals are playing a role in transmitting the disease but they think they may be able to be infected from an infected person.
At the time of writing this there have been 251,000 infections in NYS and 14,828 deaths. It is the epicenter of the disease in the US.
Personally, I am doing nothing different in respect of my relationship with my cat and probably won’t in the future unless there are dramatic developments. There is another disturbing coronavirus report today which says that Covid-19 sufferers often develop blood clots in addition to lung disease. This is scaring the medical community.
BTW Michael, I hear a lot wbout clotting issues with this and some treatments are starting to include medication to prohibit clotting in patients. Treatments are evolving as doctors learn more about this virus. I have lectured many people over the years about letting their animals have contact with strange animals who have no known vwterinary records. I never, never pet strange animals. My shoes have always been off at the door . I have now added lysol on work crocs and shower clean clothes as soon as coming home from work. Clothes go straight to laundry bag before the commencement of loving on my cats… M Eileen King.