A team of Chinese researchers has revealed that cats are not only susceptible to contracting new coronavirus but can pass it on other cats as well.
Researchers from Harbin Veterinary Research Institute found that cats are susceptible to contracting COVID-19 but no other animals such as dogs, chicken and pigs.
Also, there is no direct evidence that cats would be able to infect their owners, said the researchers from the institute at the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences.
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“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,” said the researchers.
They 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 authors wrote in a paper that published in prepreint portal bioRxiv, which is yet to be peer-reviewed.
The study comes after a cat in Belgium tested positive for the coronavirus last week, after catching the coronavirus from an infected owner.
Shenzhen has become the first Chinese city to ban the sale and consumption of dogs and cats, a move that comes after the coronavirus outbreak was linked to wildlife meat, prompting authorities to ban the trade and eating of wild animals.
Authorities in Shenzhen said that “dogs and cats as pets have established a much closer relationship with humans than all other animals”, adding that the ban “also responds to the demand and spirit of human civilization”.
Last month, a Pomeranian dog who was declared coronavirus free after being quarantined at a government facility in Hong Kong and sent home after testing negative died, although it was not clear whether COVID-19 killed the animal.