BC government studying pet cats to fill “information gaps on companion animals and COVID-19” amid pandemic

Animals around the world in all kinds of settings have tested positive for the coronavirus, and now British Columbia’s government is looking for volunteers to study how the pandemic is affecting house cats.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fishers have put a call out for pet owners who have contracted the virus to offer up their feline friends for research.

“Recent evidence of natural infections suggest that some animals can be infected and indirectly transmit the COVID-19 virus,” the province explains. “This study will look at the risks of COVID-19 virus transmission from humans to cats and will help fill important information gaps on companion animals and COVID-19.”

To be eligible for the study, there must be one or more lab-confirmed case of human COVID-19 in the household.

Participants must have tested positive within seven days of the first sample being taken from their cat.

Participants will then be asked a short survey over the phone and have the ability to place their cat in a carrier outside their door for testing. (Or, a sanitized carrier will be provided.)

Samples taken from the cat include a nasal or oral swab, a blood test and a rectal swab. Those samples will be collected twice.

Animal care professionals will be involved and any handling of the cats will be done in a stress-free manner.

“If these methods are not successful, the sampling team will make the decision not to proceed with sampling on that day and repeat on another day, or they may decide to not sample the cat at all if it is too stressful on the cat,” the government noted.

Dr. David Patrick tweeted out the study, noting that any research about COVID-19 is good for our overall understanding the virus.

“That shouldn’t stop us getting the word out for vet colleagues trying to piece together another part of the puzzle,” he wrote.

You can find out more information about the COVID and cats study here.

About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.


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