VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 in the last week and also happen to have a cat — the BC Centre for Disease Control wants to hear from you.
COVID-19 transmission between cats is the subject of a new study on the Lower Mainland.
The pilot study is looking for up to 40 cats living with newly infected owners who have tested positive for COVID in the last week.
Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Erin Fraser says there’s still a lot we don’t know about transmission, and this information could help shed a little light on how the virus can affect cats and those who care for them.
“It could help us inform the guidelines and guidance that we provide to both veterinarians and to cat owners, such as, if you have COVID yourself, what should you be doing with your cats?”
Fraser adds that a lot of what they are basing guidance on now is what they know of the virus in people, and the study would help get closer to answering any questions.
“We don’t know how often they get it, and we don’t know how often they may have the virus but not show clinical signs. If they get it, how long are they infectious? What kind of clinical signs do they get? How long might they be shedding the virus?”
Fraser explains the study focuses on cats rather than dogs because it’s been shown that cats can transmit the virus to other cats. On the other hand, dogs can get infected, but there is little evidence to show that they can also pass COVID to other animals.
Since cats seem to be more susceptible, Fraser says up to three felines from one household can take part in the program.
Eligible cats will be subject to some oral and rectal swabs as well as blood samples — but it’s all done close to home to reduce any stress caused to pets.
If your kitten is chosen for the study, you can place your cat in a sanitized carrier outside your front door, and the CDC will set up a mobile station on the spot to conduct the testing.