Two pet cats in New York state have tested positive for COVID-19, making them the first pets in the United States to have confirmed cases of the virus.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the news in a statement published Wednesday.
The cats, who live in different areas of New York State, were tested at private veterinary laboratories after showing mild respiratory symptoms. The owner of one of the two cats had already tested positive for COVID-19 at the time, indicating that the owner likely spread the virus to their cat. The other cat's owner, as well as other individuals in the household, have since tested negative. This cat may have caught the virus from asymptomatic household members or through contact with an infected person outside its home. Both cats are expected to make a full recovery.
According to the statement from the CDC, routine testing of animals is not recommended at this time. "Public health officials are still learning about SARS-CoV-2, but there is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus in the United States," read the statement.
The CDC also included these recommendations:
- Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
- Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
- 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.
If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you would around other people.
- When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
- Avoid contact with your pet, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding.
- If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a cloth face covering and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.