October 25, 2020

Cats spread Covid-19 and must self-isolate, warn scientists

Cats are highly susceptible to Covid-19 and can spread it to other felines (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty...

Cats are highly susceptible to Covid-19 and can spread it to other felines (Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images)

It’s been known for a while that cats are capable of carrying and spreading the coronavirus to each other.

And scientists in the US have now publicly stated that our feline friends should stay inside and self-isolate if they live with a person who has tested positive for Covid-19.

What’s more, if the owner has to be admitted to hospital the researchers from Colorado State University in the US say whoever is left looking after the cat should observe social distancing just as if it was a person.

‘Infected pet cats should not be allowed to roam freely outdoors to prevent potential risk of spreading infection to other outdoor cats or wildlife,’ the scientists said.

‘While neither species developed clinical disease in this study, cats shed infectious virus for up to five days and infected naive cats via direct contact, while dogs do not appear to shed virus.

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‘Thus if symptomatic humans follow appropriate quarantine procedures and stay home with their pets, there is minimal risk of a potentially exposed cat infecting another human.’

Try telling this guy he has to stay inside the whole time (Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images)

Try telling this guy he has to stay inside the whole time (Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images)

It was back in April that scientists first realised cats were highly susceptible to Covid-19.

The UK government’s website insists there’s ‘no evidence’ of animal transmission in Britain but the team at Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in China said cats are ‘highly susceptible’ and the virus can easily be transmitted between felines.

The Institute ran an experiment that included five cats that were inoculated with a high dose of the disease and three of them were placed in cages next to unaffected cats.

Results then showed that one of the previously unaffected cats had tested positive for the virus, proving that it could be transmitted through respiratory droplets.

Meanwhile, the team at Colorado State University found that while cats could contract the virus, their immune system prevented them from getting ill.

Laboratory technicians wearing full PPE (personal protective equipment) unpack a box with test tubes containing live samples taken from people tested for the novel coronavirus, at a new Lighthouse Lab facility dedicated to the testing for COVID-19, at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow on April 22, 2020. - The laboratory is part of a network of diagnostic testing facilities, along with other Lighthouse Lab sites in Milton Keynes and Cheshire, that will test samples from regional test centres around Britain where NHS staff and front-line workers with suspected Covid-19 infections have gone to have swabs taken for testing. (Photo by Andrew Milligan / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW MILLIGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Laboratory technicians wearing full PPE unpack a box with test tubes containing live samples taken from people tested for the novel coronavirus (AFP)

It’s therefore plausible that some form of vaccine may be constructed using information gained from cat’s immune systems.

Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research continued: ‘Resistance to reinfection holds promise that a vaccine strategy may protect cats and, by extension, humans.

‘Importantly, infected cats shed for no more than five days following exposure, suggesting that cats, if exposed to infected humans, will develop and clear infection rapidly.’

The same study also found that while dogs can catch Covid-19, they do not pose any risk of infecting others.

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