Two pet cats in New York have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Federal officials with the Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the news on Wednesday, adding that the animals experienced only “mild” respiratory symptoms and are both expected to make a full recovery.
While officials confirmed both cats were in New York, they did not disclose a specific location.
The agencies recommend that pet owners with coronavirus avoid “petting, snuggling or other contact” with their animals, if possible.
They Are the First Pets in the US to Test Positive
In a statement to CNN, the agencies said that at this time, there is no evidence that pets can spread coronavirus.
“There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare,” they said.
Scientists have reported that while it appears humans can pass the virus to animals, there is no evidence to support that animals can pass it on to people, reports The Hill.
CDC official Casey Barton Behravesh tells the outlet, “We don’t want people to panic. We don’t want people to be afraid of pets. There’s no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people.”
The Cats Come From Separate Households
The first cat tested lives in a home where none of the humans in the household were confirmed to have the virus. As far as how the cat contracted the virus, it’s possible that the cat was infected by someone outside the home, or someone inside the home transmitted COVID-19.
According to CNN, the second cat, which lives in another area of New York, had an owner who tested positive before the cat became ill. However, a second cat in the same household “has shown no signs of illness.”
In March, the first case of coronavirus in a dog was reported in Hong Kong. The 17-year-old Pomeranian died after returning home from quarantine. According to a spokesman for the city’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department, the owner was not willing to get an autopsy for the dog to determine the specific cause of death.
The second dog to contract coronavirus in Hong Kong came just three days later. The German-Shepherd was owned by a woman who also tested positive for the virus. At the time, Professor Malik Peiris, a public health virologist at the University of Hong Kong, shared with the NY Post, “It is very likely that the two positive cases [in Hong Kong] are examples of human-to-dog transmission.”
Earlier this month, a tiger in New York City’s Bronx Zoo also tested positive for coronavirus. The Malayan Tiger was believed to have been infected by a zoo employee, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Other tigers and lions later tested positive, as well. All the animals are reported to be doing well at this time.
The CDC recommends that people prevent their pets from interacting with people or animals outside their homes at this time.