Since the beginning of the pandemic, you’ve probably noticed that cats, as well as the big cats, sometimes make the headlines because they have been infected by the coronavirus. Owners of cats are questioning : Is this true ? And if yes, should we be worried ? In short, what message is there to learn about this ?
Is it true that cats can catch this cursed coronavirus ? Well, yes. In fact, there was (and there still is) of the reported cases of cats that tests for the SARS-CoV-2 were found to be positive everywhere in the world, the United States, France, Belgium, Spain, etc, there have even been cases among the big cats. Also, tigers and lions have been tested at the Bronx zoo, in New York, in April last, and their results were positive.
Thus, we know that cats are susceptible to the virus SARS-CoV-2 and can be infected by their owners, if they have the coronavirus. It has also been demonstrated experimentally that one can indeed infect cats. However, these infections felines are still rare, when compared to the number of human cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic. It must be repeated, it is a virus that is transmitted primarily from one human to another.
What we know currently, is that the infected cats do not develop necessarily to symptoms. In general, they are rarely sick or little sick. There has been one case of death reported in Spain, but the cat in question had a heart disease severe underlying that could very well explain, alone, the death of this cat.
Just recently in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, a group of scientists (Halfmann et al) published the summary of a study showing that cats experimentally infected may also transmit the virus to other cats.
Knowing all this, should we be worried ? Dr. Caroline Kilsdonk, president of the Order of veterinary doctors of Quebec (OMVQ) would like that the message is reassuring : “we must simply continue to follow the precautionary measures that we had already recommended before this new study. “The take-home message here is to limit contact with animals that are not ours, just like we do now with humans who do not live with us, that is to say, respecting a separation physical. It must also be remembered that, up until now, there has been no case of transmission of the virus from an animal to humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Dr. Angelique Perrier-Edmunds, a veterinarian and president of the Association of veterinary doctors of Quebec in small animal practices (AMVQ), confirms the same thing : “It’s OK to pet his cat inside if no one has symptoms at home “. It is also recommended to keep the cat inside (if not on a leash under supervision) to avoid contact with other humans and cats. It should not be forgotten that cats, in addition to being likely to be infected, have a low risk of being temporarily carry the virus in their coat. When a person is infected, the CDC recommends avoiding contact with the animal, just as we would for the humans of the household. It avoids to flatter him, to take him, kiss him, etc., If you are found positive for SARS-Cov-2, ask another person in the household to care for your cat. If this is not possible, wear a mask. In addition, wash your hands before and after handling your pet, its food or its objects (litter, toys, bowls, etc).