Why Two Pet Cats with COVID-19 in New York Shouldn't Worry You

April 22nd, 2020

With the latest CDC announcement stating that two pet cats in separate parts of New York have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, (the virus that causes COVID-19), we want to remind the public that American Pets Alive! is committed to bringing you the facts about COVID-19 cases that affect animals.

American Pets Alive! Leadership is included on daily national calls with a variety of veterinarians and other animal experts from groups such as HSUS, ASPCAPro, Best Friends, etc. and several large scale shelters across the country. We can confirm that there is still no reason to fear your pet or pets in general. There is no evidence dogs and cats can spread the virus to humans.

The best advice we can give you is to stay informed, calm, and love your pet as you normally do. We are in a time when people need their pets more than ever.

Our focus in regard to protecting people will continue to be the precautions of the CDC on how to flatten the curve: wash your hands, social distance with a 6-foot space between you and other people when out in public for essential errands, and wearing a mask. These precautions are strongly recommended and protect you from other people, the #1 carrier of COVID-19 and where you need to focus all of your effort in distancing from.

We do, of course, want to protect our animals as well. There are precautions we have been advising for any pet owner to be prepared which remain the same:

It is important pet owners have a plan. Anyone with a pet should have a plan for backup caregivers with detailed care instructions in case the worst happens and you have to go to the hospital.

When it comes to protecting animals from COVID-19, in the case of the domestic cats testing positive for this virus, both had mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery. SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in very few animals worldwide, mostly in those that had close contact with a person with COVID-19. This study by IDEXX, a global leader in veterinary diagnostics and software, evaluated thousands of canine and feline specimens during validation of a new veterinary test system for the COVID-19 virus and has seen no positive results in pets to date.

While it may feel alarming, we have known there is a chance animals could get it from us, but this does not mean your animals have to leave your house. The few known animals with COVID-19 either did not experience symptoms or symptoms were not serious. People still remain the greatest threat to people. Isolation away from the general public is the best thing you can do for you and your pet.

However, in the event you do get sick, the recommendation is to keep distance from other members of your household and that includes pets. This still doesn’t mean kicking your animals out of the house. In fact, the current recommendation is that pets who live with positive people should “shelter in place” and not leave the home at all until the person is better.

The CDC recommends:

  • Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
  • Leave cats that are not your pets alone unless they are in an emergency situation. Keep owned, indoor cats inside with you.
  • Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.

This was always the guidance for close family members who get sick, and we all know our pets are close members of our families too.


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