Cats and COVID-19

Charleston Animal Society Statement on SARS CoV-2 in domestic and wild cats

The recent report of a tiger at a zoo in New York testing positive for the novel corona virus, SARS CoV-2, has led to some concerns about the virus’s impact on the health of domesticated felines (SARS CoV-2 is the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease).

There have been limited reports of domesticated cats possibly testing positive for the virus as well. The USDA (US Department of Agriculture) and the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) have released information on this subject. 

Although there have been limited reports of felids (both domesticated and large cats) becoming infected with the SARS CoV-2 virus, there is so far no evidence that these animals can pass the disease to humans.  While the tiger that tested positive has displayed some symptoms consistent with those seen in humans, the tiger is not critically ill and is expected to recover.

In light of the potential impact on our feline companions, the AVMA and USDA recommend that sick individuals in homes with pets ask for help in caring for those pets for the duration of their illness, to limit the potential exposure of the pet to the virus.  Individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should not pet, cuddle with, groom, or feed their pets while they are experiencing symptoms and considered infectious.

If touching the animal is unavoidable, such as in the instance of individuals who live alone or for service animals, touching should be limited to what is strictly necessary. Additionally, these groups recommend that individuals experiencing symptoms should wash their hands before and after necessary contact with their pets.  

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