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Cat Tests Positive for Covid-19 - Keep your Pets Safe


ANIMAL WATCH-In what is believed to be the first human-to-cat transmission of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the Brussels Times reported on March 27 that, "A Belgian woman from the Liège province has infected her cat with the coronavirus," according to FPS Public Health. 

With Los Angeles Animal Services and other shelters and humane societies urging adoption and “fostering” of stray and surrendered cats and dogs during the current human health crisis, it is important to understand that if you, or someone in your household, tests positive for COVID-19, the virus may be transmitted to an existing or new pet, according to health experts. 

 However, the World Health Organization advises that there is “no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19 to humans, and there is no reason to abandon an animal." 

 “The veterinary medicine faculty in Liège, Belgium, reported that a coronavirus infection has been determined in a cat. The cat lived with her owner, who started showing symptoms of the virus a week before the cat did,” said Professor Dr. Steven Van Gucht, Head of Viral Diseases at Sciensano.  

The cat had diarrhea, persistent vomiting and breathing difficulties, and researchers found the virus in the cat’s feces, according to the report. (There was no indication of whether this was caused by the virus or an underlying condition.) 

This is “an isolated case which can occur after close contact between animals and infected humans,” Dr. Emmanuel Andre, a government agency spokesman on the pandemic, stated.

No information was given on the conditions of either the cat or its owner, according to the Brussels Times. 

“Animals are not vectors of the epidemic, so there is no reason to abandon your animal,” the National Council for Animal Protection (CNPA) affirmed. However, it urged sick people to “respect the usual rules of hygiene,” to wash their hands before and after stroking their pet, and to “not rub their nose against their pets.” 


COVID-19 appears to be primarily transmitted by contact with an infected person’s bodily secretions, such as saliva or mucus droplets in a cough or sneeze. 

COVID-19 might be able to be transmitted by touching a contaminated surface or object (i.e., a fomite) and then touching the mouth, nose, or possibly eyes, but this appears to be a secondary route. Smooth (non-porous) surfaces (e.g., countertops, door knobs) transmit viruses better than porous materials (e.g., paper money, pet fur), because porous, and especially fibrous, materials absorb and trap the pathogen (virus), making it harder to contract through simple touch. 

Because your pet’s hair is porous and also fibrous, it is very unlikely that you would contract COVID-19 by petting or playing with your pet. However, because animals can spread other diseases to people and people can also spread diseases to animals, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands before and after interacting with animals; ensure your pet is kept well groomed; and regularly clean your pet’s food and water bowls, bedding material, and toys. 

Also read the AVMA’s advice regarding interaction with a pet, if you are sick with COVID-19 . . .which concludes 

While we are recommending these as good practices, it is important to remember there is currently no evidence that pets can spread COVID-19 to other animals, including people.  

(See: American Veterinary Medical Association: COVID-19: FAQs FOR PET OWNERS.  Updated as of 4:30 PM March 15, 2020.) 

A prominent Los Angeles veterinarian suggests that using something as simple as a good-quality anti-bacterial hand soap to thoroughly bathe a dog or cat is sufficient to remove potentially infectious particles on its fur and skin. 


Officials warn not to allow your pet to be touched by strangers, and resist taking it to visit someone’s home or a public area, such as, a dog park or “play group.” Your cat or dog needs the same “social distancing” as a human. 

Under current conditions, it is important to have any new pet—temporary or permanent—examined by a veterinarian promptly (and have it bathed/groomed with the vet’s approval.) If it is a shelter or “rescued” pet, it may have been exposed to numerous other diseases. 

Avoid that irresistible urge to kiss the pet or instantly hold it close to your face, and don’t allow others to do so--for your pet’s health and safety.


(Phyllis M. Daugherty is a former City of LA employee and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.