In a first for the United Kingdom, a pet cat has a confirmed animal case of novel coronavirus.
The UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer said this week that lab tests on July 22 did find COVID-19 in the animal after it was first suspected of having feline herpes virus, a common cat respiratory infection.
Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said the case should “not be cause for alarm.”
“The investigation into this case suggest that the infection was spread from humans to animal, and not the other way round. At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans,” she said in a statement.
The owners of the cat had previously tested positive for COVID-19. Evidence suggests they gave it to the cat, not the other way around.
“The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery and there was no transmission to other animals or people in the household,” officials added.
The case has been reported to the World Organization, which has counted confirmed cases in pets in other countries in Europe, North America and Asia.
Still, the UK’s Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss called this case a “very rare event” with infected animals to date showing only “mild clinical signs” and recovering within a few days.
And officials said it’s a good reminder to always wash your hands, including when handling pets.
The British Veterinary Association also advised pet owners who have COVID-19 or who are self-isolating with symptoms remains to cut back on contact with their pets.
“We also recommend that owners who are confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19 should keep their cat indoors if possible, but only if the cat is happy to be kept inside the house,” BVA President Daniella Dos Santos said in a statement. “Some cats cannot stay indoors due to stress-related medical reasons.”
Photo: British Veterinary Association