Michigan reports its first case of COVID-19 in a cat

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Cats are vulnerable to COVID-19 infections. - SHUTTERSTOCK
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  • Cats are vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.

An Ingham County cat is the first domestic pet with a confirmed COVID-19 infection in Michigan, the state announced Tuesday.

The domestic shorthair cat was in close contact with it owners, who both tested positive for the virus, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said.



The cat tested positive for COVID-19 about a week after its owners were infected. The cat was sneezing and has since recovered.

"Given the other reported cases of SARS-CoV-2 being found in pets throughout the world, this detection is not unexpected," State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland said in a statement. "The cases in animals generally have involved direct contact with an owner or caretaker who was ill or tested positive for COVID-19."



As of Monday, 257 animals in the U.S. have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those, 99 are cats.

State health officials said there’s no evidence that animals are playing a significant role in transmitting the virus to humans. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also said that the risk of pets spreading COVID-19 to people is “considered to be low.”

"COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, and talking," Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said. "Protecting pets begins by taking precautions to protect yourself by getting one of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines."

Health officials are encouraging pet owners with suspected COVID-19 infections to avoid direct contact with their animals. That includes kissing them, snuggling them, sleeping with them, and sharing food with them. Pet owner with suspected COVID-19 infections should also wear a mask when interacting with their animals.

COVID-19 infections in cats include fever, sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, eye discharge, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Recent studies have found that pet cats are more susceptible to a COVID-19 infection than dogs, though both are at risk.

In China, authorities killed three house cats with COVID-19 infections, despite the low risk of animal-to-human transmission.

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