A pet cat has become the first animal to test positive for coronavirus in the UK. The feline was tested at a laboratory in Weybridge, Surrey, last week on 22 July. Evidence suggests it contracted the coronavirus from its owners who had tested positive for COVID-19 previously. Both the animal and the family have since made a full recovery.
According to the UK government’s statement, there is “no evidence” the cat transmitted coronavirus to its owners and that this should not be a cause for alarm. Speaking to Sky News, chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss explained it was a “very rare event” and that infected animals detected so far only show “mild clinical signs and recover within a few days.”
Cats with coronavirus have been found in other countries such as Belgium and China. Following recent reports of a pet cat in Belgium being infected with COVID-19 in April, a team at Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in China found that cats are highly susceptible to the virus and are able to transmit it to other cats through respiratory droplets. Dogs, chickens, pigs and ducks were found to be unlikely to catch the infection, however. While the findings were credible, they did not indicate cats were an important vector in spreading the disease between humans.
Although it has not been proved that any domestic pets are able to transmit COVID-19 to humans, general advice on fighting coronavirus should be followed with animals. So remember to wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with pets.