Two Cats Test Positive for COVID-19 in New York
In a letter to members, the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) revealed that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) and National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) confirmed the first confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) infection in two pet cats.
These are the first pets in the U.S. to test positive for SARS-CoV-2. See the full statement from the CDC here.
Both cats tested presumptive positive for SARS-CoV-2 at a private veterinary laboratory and were then confirmed positive by the NVSL after testing of additional samples. The two cats lived in separate areas of New York state. Both had mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery. In one cat, no individuals in the household were confirmed to be ill with COVID-19. The other cat’s owner tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the cat showing signs, while another cat in the same household has shown no signs of illness.
The CDC emphasized that there's still no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the U.S.; SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, mostly those that had close contact with a COVID-19 positive human; and that while additional animals may test positive as infections continue in people, animal testing does not reduce the availabilty of human tests.
The CDC recommends not letting pets interact with people or animals outside the household, keeping cats indoors when possible, walking dogs on a leash and maintaining at least a 6 ft. radius from other people and animals, and avoiding dog parks or public places where large numbers of pets and people gather.
If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would around other people. When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick and avoid contact with your pet. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.
PIJAC also provided additional information on animals and COVID-19 and on testing in animals. The CDC website has additional information about COVID-19. PIJAC’s own collection of the latest COVID-19 information and resources as it pertains to pets, pet owners and the pet care community, can be found here.