Cats Transmit COVID-19, Says New Study

Our furry felines may be members of our family, and just like your sibling, they can possibly play a role in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, according to a new study published in Microbiology Spectrum.

In the study, 16 cats were exposed to SARS-CoV-2 virus due to human infection while in their pen, or environment. Throughout the study, cats were examined using blood, nasal, oropharyngeal, rectal, and environmental samples for three weeks.

Wim van der Poel, DVM, Ph.D., Professor of Emerging Zoonotic Viruses at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands, and his colleagues, conducted the study in order to look deeper into the risk of COVID-19 infections and cats with SARS-CoV-2. While conducting the research, scientists found that cats can spread the virus to other cats in their own environment.

SARS-CoV-2 transmission between cats is efficient and can be sustained.

- van der Poel

Moreover, the environment in which the cats live in can also become infectiousness.

The study did not look at the transmission of the virus from cat to human, however. But van der Poel says, "We must assume that cat owners can be infected by SARS-CoV-2 infected cats since these cats excrete infectious virus."

In 2022, researchers in Thailand found a cat-to-human transmission and in 2021 a veterinarian contracted COVID-19 after an infected cat sneezed on her.

The researchers from the Netherlands state that they will continue their study and focus on different animals and their virus transmission. While this study did not look at the possibility of humans contracting the virus from their cats, scientists say it's best to err on the side of caution.

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