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English | Jeanne D’Esposito has three cats and a dog – “the menagerie”, as she calls her pets. As COVID-19 raced through the human population, she became concerned about spreading the virus to cats and dogs in her family.
At the start of the pandemic, D’Esposito, 57, of Malverne, New York, had read some studies on zoo lions and tigers contracting COVID-19 and assumed it meant their cats might be at risk.
“I was worried, but there is only so much you can do,” she says. “It’s not like you can put a mask on a cat.”
While unusual, it appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be transmitted from humans to domesticated cats from humans, according to newly published research from the UK. A second recent study from Brazil found that both dogs and cats had contracted the virus in households where people had COVID-19.
The British study, which appears in VetRecord, last year found SARS-CoV-2 in two cats who had developed a mild or severe respiratory disease. The genetic makeup of the feline virus was very similar to that of the human SARS-CoV-2 virus, suggesting that the virus likely passed from an infected person to a cat.
“These results suggest that human-to-cat transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, with the infected cats exhibiting mild or severe respiratory disease,” Margaret said in a statement Hosie, a professor of comparative virology at the Center for Virus Research at the Medical Research Council-University of Glasgow. “Given the ability of the coronavirus to infect pets, it will be important to monitor for human-to-cat, cat-to-cat and cat. Transmission to humans. “
Coronavirus jumps from humans to pets
The Brazil study by researchers in Rio de Janeiro and published by Plos One found that nine out of 29 dogs and four out of ten cats in the households of 21 patients examined with COVID-19 were infected with the virus between May and October 2020. Symptoms included sneezing, coughing, and diarrhea, but some animals showed no signs of the virus.
In the UK study of the two cats found with the virus, one was a 4 month old female Ragdoll kitten that did not survive. The kitten’s owner had developed symptoms consistent with SARS-CoV-2 weeks prior to the cat’s illness. However, the owner had not been tested for the coronavirus. The second cat (a 6 year old Siamese cat) survived. One of its owners tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, but a second cat in the household showed no signs of infection.