• A new study discovered that kittens are more susceptible to infection and transmission than older cats
  • Just like humans, COVID-19 transmission among felines may occur through respiratory droplets
  • However, it is not clear yet if felines can transmit COVID-19 to humans

A new study from the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in China discovered that cats are very vulnerable to COVID-19. Additionally, felines can transmit the novel coronavirus to other felines through their respiratory droplets. Other animals like ducks, pigs, chickens, and dogs were discovered to be less likely to catch the COVID-19 infection.

Earlier, the world was surprised to learn about the first reported case of a pet cat infected with COVID-19. The incident happened in Belgium, where the owner of the cat noticed that the pet showed symptoms of the infection. Vets at the University of Liege tested the cat, which showed difficulty in breathing, vomiting, and diarrhea and concluded that it had contracted the COVID-19.

Researchers also found out that kittens are more likely to contract COVID-19 infection compared to older cats. Scientists, however, say that at this point, there is no “conclusive evidence to suggest the virus can be passed from pets to humans, but people should keep their animals indoors as much as possible to reduce the possibility of exposing them to infection.”

A cat is judged in the "Longhair Pedigree Pet Imperial Grand Master Cat" class at the 42nd "Supreme Cat Show" organised by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy and held in the NEC, Birmingham, central England, Oct. 27, 2018. OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

Scientists also say that cat owners should not be alarmed, although they find the research interesting. The study was based on a lab experiment where animals were administered a high level of the COVID-19 virus. It is worth noting that the experiment did not represent real-life interactions between the pets and their owners.

According to Ohio State University Virologist Linda Saif, there are no direct pieces of evidence that indicate that COVID-19 infected cats released an ample amount of virus to transmit it on to people. The COVID-19 is now a pandemic and has taken thousands of lives around the globe. Its rapid and lethal spread raised concerns on the possibility of transmission from pets to people.

At present, there are a couple of cases of COVID-19 infected dogs in Hong Kong and a cat in Belgium. According to the authors of the latest research about COVID-19 and animals, “Cats and dogs are in close contact with humans, and therefore it is important to understand their susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 for COVID-19 control.”