Don’t let this scare you, but cats can get Covid from other cats. A study at Kansas State University found that asymptomatic cats can transmit the disease to other cats within two days. But can people get Covid from cats? Numerous researchers and the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionsay they can’t. So don’t be afraid of your cat!
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Cats Can Get Covid From Other Cats
My cat, Muffitt, is sneezing. All sorts of ominous possibilities were running through my mind until I started researching this article and discovered that cats can get Covid from other cats. Sneezing is one of the symptoms.
Could Muffitt have Covid? And if she does, how did she get it? Will she infect the other cats at our house?
Put a bunch of cats together in a laboratory setting with one who’s infected, and what you could end up with is a super spreader event. The researchers at Kansas State University School of Veterinary Medicine who studied transmission of Covid-19 from cat to cat didn’t put it quite that way. But they did find that it can spread from cat to cat to cat very quickly. Can cats give COVID to humans? The researchers say that requires further study, but it’s highly unlikely. But humans can give it to their cats.
Led by Jürgen A. Richt, the Regents distinguished professor at Kansas State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, the study showed that even cats who don’t seem to be sick can shed the virus through their anal, nasal and oral cavities, infecting the other cats who live with them. Fortunately, the infection is usually mild in cats. So even if Muffitt has Covid and infects everyone else in our family, they should all be fine within a few days.
Covid In Cats Begins With Humans
With cats, Covid seems to begin with humans. Scientists in Wuhan, China looked at blood samples from 102 cats. Forty-six were up for adoption in three different shelters, 41 were from five different animal hospitals, and 15 lived with Covid patients.
Fifteen cats had Covid antibodies in their blood, and 11 of them had neutralizing antibodies that bind to the virus and block infection.
Another study, which looked at 17 cats, 18 dogs and a ferret may also prove that misery loves company. The animals all live with people who had Covid. The people with cats who had positive antibodies said they and their cats had coronavirus-like respiratory systems at the same time.
So how does this explain the tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo who had Covid? Meilin Jin, who worked on the Wuhan study, suggests the culprit was a Covid-polluted environment or an infected caretaker.
Protecting Your Cat From Covid
Until Muffitt started sneezing, protecting my cats from Covid would have been the last thing that occurred to me. But I’m going to pay more attention now.
♦ Limit your cat’s contact with people outside your household. Keep her in, if possible. If she’s like Muffitt and refuses to stay in, ask your neighbors to try to stay six feet away and to please not touch her. That’ll be a tall order for Muffitt and her human friends, and her feelings will be hurt if they don’t stop to pet her. But safety is the most important.
♦ Keep your litter boxes and food dishes very clean. Cats give other cats Covid through bodily fluids.
If You Have Covid
♦ Isolate yourself from your cat. If possible, have someone else feed her, scoop her box and give her the attention she craves.
♦ Avoid petting and snuggling. Don’t let her sleep on your bed! She shouldn’t have contact with your sheets and blankets.
♦ Wear a mask when you’re around your cat. And wash your hands before and after you touch her, her food, waste and supplies.
♦ Don’t put a mask on your cat. I’m not sure how you’d even do this. But don’t try! You could hurt your cat, and all those claws could hurt you.
♦ Also don’t wipe or bathe your cat with chemical disinfectants, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, hand sanitizer, counter-cleaning wipes, or other industrial or surface cleaners. All of them could make her very sick.
All's Well At Our House
It’s been two days since I started working on this article, and Muffitt’s fine now. And so far, no one else is sneezing. If she had Covid, I’ll never know because testing a cat for the virus isn’t easy. And I’m not willing to subject her to a trip to the vet just to satisfy my curiosity. So she’s outside now ignoring the CDC’s advice to practice social distancing when she sees her human friends.
But I have asked my neighbors to stay six feet away from her and the other neighborhood cats and dogs. Of course, they said they would. As they continued petting the sweet and beautiful Muffitt.