“This is the first pet in the United States to be tested positive,” the US Department of Agriculture said Wednesday in a joint statement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A veterinarian tested a house cat first after showing signs of mild breathing, but no humans in the household were confirmed to have the virus.
It’s possible, officials said, that the cat was infected by someone outside the house. Someone in the house, with mild symptoms or no symptoms, can also transmit the virus.
The second cat, in a separate area of New York, was also tested after showing signs of respiratory disease. The cat owner was tested positive for Covid-19 before the cat was sick, but other cats in the house showed no signs of illness.
Social distance for cats and dogs too
Officials are still learning more about coronaviruses and pets, but the CDC recommends that people limit interactions between their pets and people or animals outside the household.
Cats should be kept indoors if possible, says the CDC, and dogs must walk on ropes, keeping a distance of at least six feet from other people and animals.
The agency said dogs must also avoid public places where large numbers of people and animals gather, such as dog parks.
If someone is sick with Covid-19 – whether suspected or confirmed – officials recommend that there are other members of household care for pets.
If that is not possible, people should wear cloth face covers around animals, making sure to wash their hands before and after interaction.
And when people are sick, officials say they should refrain from stroking or curling their pets – and avoid being kissed or licked.
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