Yes, COVID-19 can affect cats, but here's why you shouldn't worry.
woman laying with cat cats get covid
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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in the world, and our cats are no exception. The last two years have changed the way we live. While staying at home might have helped you get closer to your cat, it has probably also given you plenty of time to wonder if and how the novel coronavirus can impact your cat.

Can Cats Get COVID-19?

Yes, cats and other domestic pets can contract COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), infections tend to happen after pets are in close contact with people infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Can I Give My Cat COVID-19?

It's somewhat common for cats to contract COVID-19 in households where humans are infected. Veterinarians at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences screened pets living with people who have tested positive for COVID-19 and they identified the virus in about 17 percent of pets in infected households. So, if you have COVID-19, there's a decent chance your cat can get it as well.

If you are sick with COVID-19, the CDC does recommend avoiding contact with your cat. This includes "petting, snuggling, kissing, licking, sharing food, and sleeping in the same bed." Of course, we know how hard that can be. After all, our kitties offer much-needed comfort when we are sick. The best thing you can do is to ask your veterinarian for advice. If your cat is healthy, you may be able to take some precautions while still getting in some snuggle time.

Can Cats Give COVID-19 to Humans or Other Animals?

So, cats can get COVID-19 from humans, but can they give it to humans or other animals? "The risk of pets spreading COVID-19 to people is low" according to the CDC. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that cats and dogs "are not easily infected under natural conditions, and there is no evidence that infected cats or dogs spread the virus to other animals or to people."

While this is good news, it doesn't mean it can't happen. If you have COVID-19 and your pet becomes sick, contact your veterinarian before taking your cat to the vet in-person. If your cat does need to be seen by a vet, they will want to take some precautions (and they'll probably want a non-infected person to bring in your cat).

Symptoms of COVID-19 in Cats

Cats who contract the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus will often show no signs of COVID-19 infection. When cats do get sick from COVID-19, the signs are similar to those in humans but usually very mild. Most cats experience symptoms associated with upper respiratory tract infections, such as:

  • Coughing
  • Fever
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Lethargy
  • Runny nose or nasal congestion
  • Sneezing
  • Eye discharge
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Treatment For COVID-19 in Cats

Because COVID-19 does not tend to cause serious illness in cats, treatment is often unnecessary. Some cats will need supportive care, which can include fluids, rest, and anti-inflammatory medications, if needed, to ease discomfort. Your veterinarian may be able to advise you over the phone about home supportive care. However, some cats may need hospitalized care, especially if they get dehydrated or develop secondary infections.

How Long Does COVID-19 Infection Last in Cats?

Cats infected with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus typically only shed the virus for a few days. If they become sick, symptoms may last a few days to a few weeks depending on the individual cat.

Is There a Cat Coronavirus Vaccine?

An experimental coronavirus vaccine has been used in some zoos on big cats and other animals. However, this vaccine is not available for domestic cats, nor is it being recommended by veterinarians.