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Don’t infect your feline master!

Written By: - Date published: 9:29 am, May 16th, 2020 - 16 comments
Categories: covid-19, health, humour, uncategorized - Tags:

In terrible news, our feline masters can both get covid-19, and they can infect other cats. Fortunately so far they have largely been asymptomatic apart from some big cats.

We don’t know if there can be cat to human transmission. But I suspect it is likely to eventually be confirmed. This has obvious implications about being a issue for breaking transmission chains in the domestic cat world (and of course for humans).

Covid-19 confirmed in cats: After months of speculation and anecdotal cases, scientists have confirmed that domestic cats can become infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, and can pass the virus to other cats. The results of their laboratory study on cats were published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

Medium Coronavirus Blog

Three domestic cats were inoculated with SARS-CoV-2 on day 0. One day after inoculation, a cat with no previous SARS-CoV-2 infection was cohoused with each of the inoculated cats to assess whether transmission of the virus by direct contact would occur between the cats in each of the three pairs (Table S1 in the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this letter at NEJM.org). Nasal and rectal swab specimens were obtained daily and immediately assessed for infectious virus on VeroE6/TMPRSS2 cells.3

On day 1, we detected virus from two of the inoculated cats. By day 3, virus was detectable in all three inoculated cats, with continued detection of virus until day 5 in all cats and until day 6 in two of the three cats (Figure 1).

The cats with no previous infection were cohoused with the inoculated cats on day 1. Two days later (day 3), one of the cats with no previous infection had infectious virus detected in a nasal swab specimen, and 5 days later, virus was detected in all three cats that were cohoused with the inoculated cats (Figure 1). Virus titers in the cats that were cohoused with the inoculated cats peaked at 4.5 log10 plaque-forming units per milliliter, and virus shedding lasted 4 to 5 days (Figure 1). No virus was detected in any of the rectal swabs tested. Although there have been reports of symptomatic infected cats, none of the cats in our study showed any symptoms, including abnormal body temperature, substantial weight loss (Fig. S1), or conjunctivitis. All the animals had IgG antibody titers between 1:5120 and 1:20,480 on day 24 after the initial inoculation

New England Journal of Medicine

Other feline species like lions and tigers have been confirmed with being able to be infected by humans at the Bronx zoo. This was discovered by testing after several tigers and lions showed signs of a respiratory illness. See CDC bulletin.

For humans, our daily contact with our cute carnivore masters should probably be done with a bit of caution. If your master starts getting a respitory disease, it will be worth telling your vet that as a precaution.

While there have also been reports of dogs being infected as well. But so far I haven’t seen any reports of research on that. But basically who really cares?

16 comments on “Don’t infect your feline master! ”

  1. Anne 1

    Thanks for the heads up.

    The owner of my property, a large ginger and white madam – in the over 70s feline equivalent bracket – has had her nose put out of joint because I adopted a little grey and white stray who is now a healthy young lad with lots of character. The house has been divided into two. Upstairs belongs to madam and downstairs to Johnny-come-lately. Bit of a problem with the stair-case, but Johnny-come-lately has learnt to make a strategic withdrawal when Madam chooses to go on her daily brief perambulation around the garden. He knows his place.

    A bit of a worry but since neither of them have any inclination to go exploring beyond my property (and occasionally next door) I hope that will keep them safe.

    • lprent 1.1

      In the early 90s I was enslaved by a pair of feline sisters. Half burmese and half farm cat. They came from Bruce Simpson of aardvark daily. I gave them the nicknames of 'fiend' and 'hiss' for their distinguishing characteristics as kittens.

      Fiend because when a foot came past, she would ruthlessly attack. Hiss because she would retreat under the nice warm water bed hissing like a steam kettle.

      All was fine until they grew up and developed a detestation for each other. Personally I think that it arose out of their on-up-catship competition about dropping their kills for their slave to dispose of. That started with crickets, went through tailless skinks, small birds, and culminated in a immature seagull.

      But they started walking around the other side of a living room to get to their Catgeld food bowl. Since the living room was rather small, this was a amusing sight (but like any good servant I hid my expression behind a stony face).

      Eventually fiend slowly started appearing more and more infrequently, and looking in better condition each time. It was clear that I was being passed over for a better servant. Within a few months Hiss ruled the flat alone.

      Hiss ruled to the age of 15 human years, when her kidneys had a failure.

    • mac1 1.2

      I don't have a cat. Instead I have five contiguous neighbours and their cats……… They meet on my property which is disputed territory, caterwaul and defecate. Trumpian walls would not deter them.

      They come down to the riverside and lurk in ambush for ducklings or prey on birds.

      If they are vectors for covid-19 then that would be catastrophic. Was Gareth Morgan right?

      Now, in all seriousness, what was the result of the 2018 trial of a cat ban in Omaui in coastal Southland?

      • Anne 1.2.1

        My recollection the local council backed down after a cat-fight broke out between the locals and the council.

        With regard to your property problems, you do appreciate that cats are very hygiene conscious and don't like defecating on their own property. You are doing your neighbours a service by having no cats. After all they've got to have somewhere to go and Jacinda has called for kindness and consideration in these troubling times. 😛

      • JanM 1.2.2

        I have similar issues with neighbourhoox cats!

  2. bill 2

    Well, apparently pangolins are more closely related to cats than ant eaters…

    And if 'big cats' in zoos can pick up infection from people, then unless that's some mysterious one way street like the magical and mysterious dead end street that children were meant to represent … 👿

  3. Ad 3

    I thought my cats would like me working around the house, but I have this sneaking suspicion they think I'm just a loser for being here.

  4. RedLogix 4

    Morgan was right. devil

  5. I fear the nice one who sleeps under the blanket with me on cold nights won't be the one who'll survive. It'll be the sister who pisses on my pillow, laundry basket, floor, shoes and furniture who lives on.

    • lprent 5.1

      But she loves you and is willing to mark her territory to keep the flea sharer away.

      • The Al1en 5.1.1

        It's definitely unrequited for miss pissy.

        I only took them from the ex when she moved down country as the spca said because of their age they would probably put them down than try to rehouse them. If the nice one goes first, the other will quickly follow.

  6. weka 6

    "But basically who really cares?"

    Lol. One advantage is that it would temper the cat-haters going on a Kill the Cats! frenzy campaign if people knew dogs were covid transmitters too.

  7. Treetop 7

    I would like to know if there was any detection of Covid-19 in poo even though a rectal swab was negative. If in poo there goes my appetite concerning my little veggie patch.

  8. gnomic 8

    I hope this doesn't mean it is antisocial if cat sleeps on bed, and there is an occasional nose kiss?

    Cat lovers may find 'Cat's Company' by Michael Joseph of interest.

    This cove wrote another book about his special feline friend, a Siamese named Charles.

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