People Can Give Their Cats COVID-19 Interview with:

Margaret J. Hosie BVM&S, MRCVS, BSc. PhD. Professor of Comparative Virology MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research United Kingdom

Dr. Hosie

Margaret J. Hosie BVM&S, MRCVS, BSc. PhD.
Professor of Comparative Virology
MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research
United Kingdom What is the background for this study?

Response: SARS-CoV-2 is a new coronavirus of animal origin that recently jumped to humans and has spread rapidly across the world. It is likely that SARS-CoV-2 will establish as an endemic virus of humans, which has the potential to be transmitted to animals that live in close proximity to humans. There have been sporadic reports of infections in pet cats in households with COVID-19 patients, which demonstrates that cats are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and could act as virus reservoirs. What are the main findings?

Response: We set out to find evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in UK cats. We identified two cats that tested positive, both of them were from suspected COVID-19 households. We were able to sequence one of the viruses and found that it was very similar to the sequences of isolates from infected people in the same region of the UK. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Human-to-cat transmission appears to occur rarely.  We tested over 350 respiratory samples from cats before we identified one that tested positive. Nevertheless, people with COVID-19 should be aware that they can pass the virus on to their pets. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Our current understanding of the potential of SARS-CoV-2 to jump between species is limited and we must be prepared for the possibility that transmission from cat-to-cat or cat-to-human or another species could occur. We propose to develop an in vitro pipeline for assessing virus zoonotic and reverse-zoonotic potential, which can be applied to circulating and future SARS-CoV-2 genotypes. Data obtained from the proposed studies will provide an early, evidence-based, indication of zoonotic potential, so that virus transmission to potentially susceptible species can be effectively gauged and controlled. Is there anything else you would like to add?

 Response: These findings indicate that human-to-cat transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, with the infected cats displaying mild or severe respiratory disease. Given the ability of the coronavirus to infect companion animals, it will be important to monitor for human-to-cat, cat-to-cat and cat-to-human transmission.

Our studies are supported by the Wellcome ISSF COVID Response Fund, the MRC and BBSRC.


Hosie, MJEpifano, IHerder, VOrton, RJStevenson, AJohnson, N, et al. Detection of SARS‐CoV‐2 in respiratory samples from cats in the UK associated with human‐to‐cat transmissionVet Rec2021;e247.



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Last Updated on April 23, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD