The Association of Spanish Veterinarians Specialists in Small Animals (AVEPA) insists: “To this day, there is no scientific evidence that cats and dogs can transmit the disease to people.” From AVEPA, they also emphasize that COVID-19 is a disease transmitted between people, which affects people and that it is in this aspect that efforts to contain the virus should focus.
In recent days some confusing news has appeared in the media: information about a tigress that had tested positive for Covid-19 in a New York zoo and also about a few documented cases of infected domestic cats. In all these cases, the owners or caretakers were people positive for the virus and everything indicates that they were the ones who infected the animals, not the other way around.
However, these latest news have cast doubt on the possibility that our domestic cats can be infected with the virus, or that they can infect us.
In response to all those doubts, The Association of Veterinary Specialists in Small Animals issued this week a statement that, from Mascoteros, we want to reproduce here so that you can read:
What about cats and COVID-19? Nothing!
When, today, COVID-19 has infected more than 1,250,000 (confirmed) people around the world and 70,000 deaths have been exceeded, news about the role of the cat in the disease appears that can generate doubts and fears rather than providing useful information.
A few cases of cats and other felines such as a tiger have been documented from the New York Zoo that were positive for the virus. All these cases had owners or caretakers who were positive for the virus and who most likely have been the cause of infection of these animals. In addition, a preliminary study (it has not gone through the peer review process before being published), showed that under experimental conditions, cats could become infected with COVID-19 and transmit it to other cats. This study inoculated a quantity of virus in cats that would hardly occur in real life. Still, only one healthy cat was infected, which seems to indicate that transmission between cats is much less efficient than between people.
Finally, until today, another study carried out in Wuhan, China showed that around 15% of the cats analyzed had been in contact with the Coronavirus. The study did not look at whether these cats had symptoms or not, and those cats whose owners were positive had the highest levels of antibodies to the virus. All in all, the data seem to indicate two things:
- The cat, and possibly other felines, can be affected very occasionally by the virus, especially being spread by owners or caretakers who have the disease. These cats show no or very mild symptoms and their ability to infect other cats appears very limited.
- Comparing the number of cats affected with the tragedy it involves in people offers the real, anecdotal dimension of the problem in cats. COVID-19 is a person-to-person disease that affects people and is where efforts to contain the disease should focus.
Recommendations if you live with a cat or a dog
At times when many people are isolated from their relatives and with the only direct company of their pets, they can continue to enjoy this company and follow the recommendations that have been made since the beginning of the pandemic.
- It is recommended that another member of the family take care of these animals. If this is not possible, you must wash your hands well before and after touching them and minimize contact with these animals to the absolute minimum.
- For dogs, walks should be, as indicated by the regulations, as short as possible and maintaining the recommended distance from other people. and that your veterinarian can assess whether it is necessary to see the animal, and in that case take the appropriate measures.
Testing asymptomatic cats or dogs is not recommended at this time. The situation of the pandemic changes day by day and veterinarians will continue to be attentive to the information that appears, we will assess them rigorously to adapt our protocols and recommendations if necessary.