Cats are susceptible to contracting the new coronavirus, according to a preliminary study conducted in China.
The researchers also concluded that cats can infect other cats with the new coronavirus through “respiratory droplets”. This was determined by placing uninfected cats in enclosures adjacent to cages with infected cats and carefully monitoring their interactions.
While the study showed that cats are receptive to the coronavirus, Chinese scientists found that the virus “replicates badly” in dogs, concluding that dogs have “low susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2”. Cases were reported where a couple of Hong Kong dogs tested positive for low levels of coronavirus.
The team of the veterinary research laboratory of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences in Beijing undertook the work, says the study, because “dogs and cats are in close contact with humans, so it is important to understand their susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 to control the expansion of COVID -19 control. The research was conducted under high-level biosafety conditions, with scientists wearing full-body pressurized suits.
In the study, infected cats showed no symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, and not all uninfected cats ended up being infected through respiratory droplets from other animals. How cats respond to Covid-19 has not been studied. The Guardian reports that a domestic cat in Belgium “developed respiratory difficulties, diarrhea, and vomiting” shortly before it tested positive for the disease.
The Chinese study, which has not yet undergone peer review, is still very incomplete because it has not verified whether cats can infect humans. There is no evidence that cats are playing a role in the spread of the disease among humans. Veterinary Professor Linda Saif of Ohio State University pointed out in the journal Nature that the cats in the study were given particularly high doses of viruses and “do not represent real-life interactions between people and their pets.
It is recommended, however, that a person showing symptoms of Covid-19 should be as isolated as possible from other people in the house and also keep all pets out of the sick person’s room.
The Chinese study also established that the coronavirus reproduces “efficiently” in ferrets, but that, like dogs, chickens, ducks and pigs have a low susceptibility to the virus.