Cats and coronavirus: 3rd animal case in Hong Kong, and SARS-CoV-2 can replicate in cats says new China study

2nd domestic cat infected in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, the Agriculture, Fisheries & Conservation Department said on March 31 that a pet cat has tested positive for COVID-19. This is the third animal to test positive for the virus in Hong Kong.

They believe there is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a *source* of the virus, but medical experts caution that pets could potentially carry and transmit the virus without being ill.

Just like humans can.

Separately, the results of a new study in China on possible transmission of coronavirus via pets and livestock show that SARS-CoV-2 can replicate efficiently in cats, with "younger cats being more permissive."


The current case involves a domestic short-haired cat that lived in a residence in Aberdeen. When the owner was confirmed with COVID-19, the cat was sent for quarantine at the animal-keeping facility at the Hong Kong Port of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge on [Mon 30 Mar 2020]. Its oral cavity, nasal, and rectal samples tested positive for the
virus. The cat has not shown any signs of disease.

The department will continue to monitor the cat closely and conduct repeated testing. It advised that mammalian pets, including dogs and cats from households with people confirmed to be infected with COVID-19, should be put under quarantine at its facilities.

2nd domestic cat infected, Hong Kong
Date: Tue 31 Mar 2020
Source: Press release, Government of Hong Kong [via PROMED]

RELATED scientific study from China on pets and farm animals and coronavirus, out this week:

Experimental infection trials, companion and farm animals, China
Date: Tue 31 Mar 2020
Source: bioRxiv (preprint, not peer reviewed) [edited]

Jianzhong Shi, Zhiyuan Wen, Gongxun Zhong, Huanliang Yang, et al. Susceptibility of ferrets, cats, dogs, and different domestic animals to SARS-coronavirus-2. bioRxiv: preprint (not peer reviewed); doi

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) causes the infectious disease COVID-19, which was 1st reported in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Despite the tremendous efforts to control the disease, COVID-19 has now spread to over 100 countries and caused a
global pandemic. SARS-CoV2 is thought to have originated in bats; however, the intermediate animal sources of the virus are completely unknown.

Here, we investigated the susceptibility of ferrets and animals in close contact with humans to SARS-CoV-2. We found that SARS-CoV-2 replicates poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens, and ducks, but efficiently in ferrets and cats. We found that the virus transmits in cats via respiratory droplets. Our study provides important insights into the animal reservoirs of SARS-CoV-2 and animal management for COVID-19 control.


The results indicated that SARS-CoV-2 can replicate efficiently in cats, with younger cats being more permissive. More important, the virus could transmit between cats via respiratory droplets. The authors concluded that surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in cats should be considered as an adjunct to elimination of COVID-19 in humans.