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Update on domestic animals and COVID-19

Tabby cat lying on its back on a cushion.

Recently, a tiger in a New York City zoo tested positive for COVID-19. The SARS-CoV-1 virus in 2002-2004 was able to infect cats so it is not surprising that SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) also has this ability.

The U.S. and China are conducting studies right now with domestic animals.

  • The most recent research shows domestic cats are not a likely source of transmission to humans. Indoor cats especially pose little to no risk to humans, as their exposure to COVID-19 is likely even less than our own.
  • Dogs have shown little to no risk of infection with COVID-19 and there is no evidence to suggest transmission.
  • Our livestock species continue to show no risk of infection or transmission.

Keep cats indoors

Indoor/outdoor cats are very unlikely to pose a risk of transmission of COVID-19. However, as we do not know what people or other cats they are interacting with when out and about, they pose more risk than a strictly indoor cat.

No additional safety steps are needed with indoor/outdoor cats at this time, but you may want to consider limiting contact with the cat or moving the cat to indoor-only if possible.

Limit contact with pets if you are sick

CDC guidelines now include recommendations to protect your animals if you are sick. Limit contact with your pets if you are feeling sick just like you would with other people.

The CDC continues to state that, "there is no evidence to suggest any animals including pets, livestock, or wildlife might be a source of COVID-19 infection at this time."

My overall message is still to continue to hug and pet your animals.

Joe Armstrong, veterinarian, Extension educator in livestock and cattle production

Editors note: This article is an update to our March 13, 2020 article Livestock, companion animals and COVID-19.

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