Cats Can Infect Other Cats with Virus That Causes COVID-19: Cats In Lab Study Showed No Symptoms; Still No Evidence of Pets Spreading COVID-19 to Humans; Guidelines for Safe Pet Care Noted; UW-Madison and U of Tokyo Involved in NEJM-Published Study

Three cats infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 spread the virus to three other cats in a lab study reported in The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) ( by a research team working in Tokyo, Japan, and Madison, Wisconsin, USA. The open-access article was published on May 13, 2020, and is titled “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in Domestic Cats.” The authors included Peter J. Halfnmann, PhD, Masato Hatta, DVM, PhD, Shiho Chib, PhD, Tadashi Maemura, DVM, PhD, and Shufang Fan, PhD, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Makoto Takeda, MD, PhD, at the National Institutes of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan; Noriko Kinoshita, MD, and Shin-ichiro Hattori, PhD, at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine,Tokyo, Japan; and Yuko Sakai-Tagawa, PhD, Kiyoko Iwatsuki-Horimoto, DVM, PhD, Masaki Imai, DVM, PhD, and Yoshihiro Kawaoka, DVM, PhD, at the University of Tokyo, Japan. The research team emphasized that there is no evidence of the COVID-19 virus transmitting from cats to humans. The researchers stated that it is much more likely that humans are giving the virus to their pets, rather than pets causing humans to become sick. The research team infected three cats with large doses of the virus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes COVID-19, directly into both eyes, both nostrils, the mouth, and the trachea (windpipe). The infected cats were housed in pairs with uninfected cats, sharing the same space, food, water, and air. Within five days, the uninfected cats tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in nasal swabs.
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