CATS can spread coronavirus to other pets and must stay indoors with their self-isolating owners, scientists have warned.
New research suggests that cats can spread the deadly virus from one to another through their nose and mouth.
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Researchers from Colorado State University have advised keeping cats indoors if a human in a household has become infected- because they could spread coronavirus to other cats.
They have also said that if a person with Covid-19 needs to be admitted to a hospital and has pet cats, the feline’s caretakers should know to observe social distancing as they would with a person.
The research conducted by Colorado State University said: “Infected pet cats should not be allowed to roam freely outdoors to prevent potential risk of spreading infection to other outdoor cats or wildlife.
“While neither species developed clinical disease in this study, cats shed infectious virus for up to five days and infected naive cats via direct contact, while dogs do not appear to shed virus.
“Thus if symptomatic humans follow appropriate quarantine procedures and stay home with their pets, there is minimal risk of a potentially exposed cat infecting another human.”
PETS AT HOME
There are now hopes that cats’ immune systems could hold the key for new coronavirus vaccines.
This comes as deaths related to coronavirus surpassed one million globally.
After testing seven cats and three dogs that were injected with the virus, the research found that neither species appeared to get ill from Covid-19.
But cats’ immune systems stopped the moggies from being reinfected.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the research continued: “Resistance to reinfection holds promise that a vaccine strategy may protect cats and, by extension, humans.
“Importantly, infected cats shed for no more than five days following exposure, suggesting that cats, if exposed to infected humans, will develop and clear infection rapidly.”
The report also said that cats are “highly susceptible to infection” and that they are capable of infecting other cats directly through their mouth and nose.
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However, the felines have a “robust neutralising antibody response” which means that they are highly unlikely to be re-infected with the virus.
Dogs can also catch the virus but don’t pose any risk of infecting others, the US study found.
There is also no further evidence to suggest that dogs or cats spread the virus to humans.