Cats can easily spread COVID-19 to other cats, even in cases where the infected animal is asymptomatic, according to new research out of Kansas State University.
Researchers have found that COVID-19 can spread efficiently from cat-to-cat through viral shedding via nasal, oral, and rectal cavities within two days. The researchers noted that other studies have found that humans infected with COVID-19 can transmit the virus to cats.
“This includes domestic cats and even large cats, such as lions and tigers,” said Jürgen A. Richt, DVM, PhD, the Regents distinguished professor at K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM). “Our findings are important because of the close association between humans and companion animals.”
The study authors said more research is needed to determine whether domestic cats can transmit the virus to other species of animals and/or humans. That research will be crucial to virus mitigation efforts, said Richt.
“This efficient transmission between domestic cats indicates a significant animal and public health need to investigate a potential human-cat-human transmission chain,” said Richt.
He added that researchers are planning to carry out additional research to find out whether cats are immune to COVID-19 after recovering from it.
“This research is important for risk assessment, implementing mitigation strategies, addressing animal welfare issues, and to develop preclinical animal models for evaluating drug and vaccine candidates for COVID-19,” he said.