Time and again, we are told by scientists and experts that “as far as we know” companion animals do not transmit Covid-19 to their human caretakers or other family members. We also see the phrase “there is no evidence to support” the fact that cats can transmit the virus to people. I’m going to argue that people would like to see firm evidence from scientists that domestic cats do not pose this problem. I say this primarily in the interests of all domestic cats. Once we have the evidence we can remove any risk of unnecessarily reliqushments of cats and dogs once the shelters open. There is a question mark over what will happen when shelters open after lockdowns.
And I don’t think they do pose a risk because out of 3.56 million people infected with the virus worldwide, to date, there have only been five confirmed cases worldwide of domestic cats catching the virus to which you should include the Bronx Zoo big cats.
So there are very, very few cases of domestic cats getting this virus but then again there’s been very little in the way of testing of domestic cats so it is conceivable although unlikely that domestic cats could be harbouring the disease asymptomatically. Although, once again, I stress that there is no evidence, to use the language of scientist, to support this.
The reason why I am writing this short post is because another case of a cat being infected with Covid-19 has surfaced in France (source: connexionfrance.com). The first in that country. On Saturday, May 2, the Alfort veterinary school in Val-de-Marne near Paris confirmed that they had identified the first national case of a cat becoming infected with the virus. Is believed that the cat caught the virus from their owner who had tested positive for Covid-19.
The infection was confirmed in a study by a biology research unit and health agencies: Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l’Alimentation, de l’Environnement et du Travail, the national agriculture research agency Institut National de Recherche pour l’Agriculture, l’Alimentation et l’Environnement (Inrae) alongside the prestigious research centre Institut Pasteur in Paris. The study assessed about a dozen cats who had been in contact with their owners suspected of having the virus. This particular cat was tested positive on a swab from the rectum which, to my knowledge, is unusual. A nasal swab had tested negative, incidentally.
To the best of my knowledge, the five confirmed cases of domestic and wild cats contracting the disease have come from the US, Belgium, Hong Kong, Wuhan in China and now France.
PS. I’m reporting the news. I don’t want anybody to do anything silly because of this kind of report. The general gist of the reporting on domestic cats getting the virus is that there is little or no risk to humans but, as I state in the title, I think we need confirmation. We need scientists to step up and allay any fears that some people might have by conducting a further study. This coronavirus crisis is not going to go away anytime soon. It will be a slow return to normal and therefore we have plenty of time to carry out the study and all the more reason why it will be useful going forward as cat ownership, in many countries, is very commonplace.