Cats are susceptible to the new coronavirus, according to a preliminary study in China.
The researchers concluded that cats can also transmit the coronavirus to other cats via “respiratory droplets”. This was determined by placing uninfected cats in pens adjacent to cages containing infected cats and closely monitoring their interactions.
While the study has shown that cats are receptive to the coronavirus, Chinese scientists have found that the virus “replicates poorly” in dogs, concluding that dogs have “low sensitivity to SARS-CoV-2”. There have been reports of a couple of dogs in Hong Kong testing positive for low levels of coronavirus.
The team of the veterinary research laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing has undertaken the work, according to the study, because “cats and dogs are in close contact with humans, so it is important to understand their sensitivity to SARS-CoV-2 for COVID -19 control. The research was carried out under high-level biosecurity conditions, with scientists wearing suits under full pressure.
In the study, infected cats showed no symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and not all uninfected cats were infected with respiratory droplets from other animals. The cats response to Covid-19 has not been studied. The Guardian reports that a domestic cat in Belgium “developed breathing difficulties, diarrhea and vomiting” shortly before being tested positive for the disease.
The Chinese study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, has not tested whether cats are capable of infecting humans. There is no evidence that cats play a role in the spread of the disease in humans. Linda Saif, veterinary professor at Ohio State University, noted in Nature magazine that the study cats received particularly high doses of virus and “do not represent actual interactions between people and their pets” .
However, it is recommended that if a person has symptoms of Covid-19, they should be isolated from other people in the household as much as possible and all pets should also be kept away from the sick person’s bedroom.
The Chinese study determined that the coronavirus also reproduces “effectively” in ferrets, but that, like dogs, chickens, ducks and pigs have a low sensitivity to the virus.
– Douglas Perry
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