UC Davis veterinarians give pet owners advice after 2 NY cats test positive for COVID-19

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DAVIS, Calif. (KTXL) – Weeks after a tiger at the Bronx Zoo was diagnosed with COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced two pet cats in New York have also tested positive.

Jane Sykes, a chief veterinary officer with the University of California, Davis, school of veterinary medicine told FOX40 Wednesday she first heard about the possibility of confirmed U.S. cases in cats last week. 

“There were not many details about where the cats were from. They were stating that they had respiratory signs back then and it was presumed that they were from two separate households but not a lot of details were reported,” said Sykes.

Officials said the first house cat was tested after showing mild respiratory symptoms. 

They say no one in the household was confirmed to have the virus. 

But they said the second house cat from a different part of the state tested positive after the pet’s owner also contracted COVID-19. 

“I think we now realize that it’s possible for transmission to occur to animals and that people who have COVID-19 or are highly suspected to have it and maybe are awaiting testing should take precautions with their animals,” advised Sykes.

Veterinarians at UC Davis have been studying the effects of COVID-19 on animals, but they said routine testing is not suggested at this time. 

“We’re really kind of in preliminary phases because we are gathering samples from animals for future testing,” said Sykes.

While getting tested for the virus is still a national concern, CDC officials said animal testing does not reduce the availability of tests for humans. 

“The tests that are being used on animals are usually done out of different labs than are used to test humans,” explained Sykes.

Officials are recommending pet owners keep animals indoors and maintain a 6-foot distance from other pets and people when outdoors.

Although, Sykes said transmission from human to animals is still quite rare. 

“There’s still no evidence that animals can transmit infection back to other animals, including people,” said Sykes.

State animal and public health officials will take the lead on determining whether animals should be tested for the virus. For more information about the effects of the virus on pets, click or tap here.

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