Statement Regarding Pets and the Risk of COVID-19 Transmission

On Wednesday, April 22, 2020 the CDC reported that 2 pet cats from two separate areas of New York State  have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). 

Both cats had symptoms of mild respiratory illness and are expected to make a full recovery.  One of the cats lived in a home with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 prior to the cat showing symptoms.  No members of the other cat’s household were confirmed to have been ill with COVID-19, though it is possible the virus was transmitted to the cat by a mildly ill or asymptomatic household member or an infected person outside the home.

Public health officials are still learning about SARS-CoV-2, but at this time there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus in the United States.   

Frequently Asked Questions about Pets and COVID-19

How can I protect my cat from catching the virus?

The CDC made the following recommendations for all pet owners:

-Do not let your pets interact with people or other animals from outside your household.

-Keep cats indoors.

-Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining a distance of 6-feet from other people and animals.

-Avoid dog parks are public places where large numbers of people and dogs gather.


For pet owners sick with COVID-19 or suspected COVID-19, the CDC recommends:

-Restrict contact with your pets just as you would people.

-If possible, have another household member take over the primary care of the pets.

-Avoid petting, snuggling, and face-to-face contact with your pets.

-Wear a cloth face covering during interaction with your pets and wash your hands before and after interacting with them.

Why should I take precautions with my dog when the Virus has only appeared in cats?

Research is underway to better understand the susceptibility of different animal species to the COVID-19 virus.

In the laboratory setting, cats, ferrets, and dogs all appear to be susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, though dogs seem to be less susceptible to infection than ferrets and cats.

If my cat catches the virus from me, how serious is it?

So far, Sars-CoV-2 infection in cats causes only mild upper respiratory symptoms, much like the common cold in humans.

As Dr. James Lowe recently explained on WCIA-3 news, the SARS-CoV-2 virus needs to find a receptor cell inside the host in order to launch illness.  Both humans and cats have such receptor cells, but in humans those cells are located deep in the lungs and in cats they’re located in the upper respiratory tract.  This at least partially explains why the disease manifests quite differently in cats than in people.   

Should I be worried that I could catch COVID-19 from my cat or stray cats?

No.  At this time there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19 and the risk of animals transmitting the virus to humans is low.

Read the statement from the CDC here: