Research reviews on two cats that caught COVID-19

Our feline friends are also prone to severe coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections with acute respiratory syndrome. This is the result of new studies published on the bioRxiv * preprint server. The researchers diagnosed two cats living in France with mild symptomatic COVID-19 disease. The virus was most likely transmitted from its owners.

Previous studies have shown increasing evidence of cat-to-cat and human-to-cat SARS-CoV-2 transmission – but not the other way around. Cat infection from any of the worrying varieties remains unknown, but is a growing problem for both pet and non-pet owners.

The researchers write:

“This question will quickly become critical in the near future as the British variant, which is known to be much more contagious, is currently removing the ancestral variant of SARS-CoV-2 in both France and other European countries It is increasingly important to implement a one-health approach to tackling the SARS-CoV-2 epidemic that takes into account infections and viral circulation in pets. “

First cat

The two cats came from two separate households during the second French coronavirus wave from October 2020 to November 2020. The team collected RNA samples using nasopharyngeal and rectal specimens. You use PCR to confirm a coronavirus diagnosis. A cat was subjected to serological analysis for antibodies specific for either the nucleocapsid protein (N protein) or the spike protein.

The first participant was a 5 year old European cat who grew up in a household with only one pet. Her only contact with the outside world during the pandemic was her owner. She had vaccinations 3 years ago and had no history of illness.

Her owner was positive with symptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection and 10 days later, on October 24, 2020, the cat was also showing symptoms. She showed continuous sneezing with non-purulent nasal secretions; There were no digestive and other symptoms indicative of SARS-CoV-2.

Five days after the symptoms were presented, the cat showed pink mucous membranes, an increased heartbeat of 175 beats per minute, an increased rectal temperature in the range of 38 ° C to 39 ° C, dehydration, a seric urea concentration of 0.49 g / l and a seric creatinine -Concentration of 12.7 mg / l.

The cat was treated with a doxybactin tablet for 10 days and with a daily dose of Meloxoral for 3 days, with the treatment noticeably improving 3 days after the start of treatment.

The team examined the serum from blood samples to check for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies after recovery. They found antibodies specific for the N protein, the receptor binding domain of the spike protein, and tri-spike SARS-CoV-2 proteins. Due to the poor preservation of the swab samples, the researchers were unable to perform genomic monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 variants.

Second cat

The second participant was a 13-year-old European male with a history of chronic rhinitis who lived in a multi-pet household. He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection after the animal owner, who was also positive, reported mild symptoms. Further tests showed retro-mandibular adenopathy but no other symptoms.

Similar to the first cat, poor sample storage made it difficult to assess the SARS-CoV-2 genome. The researchers were only able to sequence 5 partial fragments from oropharyngeal smears. They did not find a 11288-11296 deletion, suggesting that the coronavirus infection was not from variants B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P.1. While the researchers found no evidence of variants because they may have appeared before they developed, they note that understanding of the effects of the variants on cats is limited. It remains unknown how the variants affect the communicability and severity of the disease.

A sequenced fragment had a genetic mutation to the amino acid Q57H. The researchers note that the H57 mutation was found worldwide and was present in approximately 70% of the sequences analyzed in France from October to December 2020.

The results suggest that their owners most likely infected both cats. “Although we cannot definitively rule out infection of the cats by someone outside the household, the information provided by the owners, including the exclusive and unique contact with their owner for cat 1 and the general deterioration in the condition of all cats from cat 2 owners, strongly suggests transmission from owners to cats, “writes the research team.

Important NOTE

* bioRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and should therefore not be considered conclusive, guide clinical practice / health-related behavior, or are treated as established information.