Two cats in the United States have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 after showing signs of mild upper respiratory disease. Idexx Laboratories has just announced the availability of a SARS-CoV-2 PCR test for animals. Should you have your pet tested? Probably not. Here is a report from the USDA:
If your cat is showing signs of respiratory infection it may be allergies or a common viral infection. If you or someone in your family has tested positive for Covid-19 then testing your cat may be reasonable. However, there is no specific treatment for Covid-19 in pets and the infection will likely run its course without significant complications. Additionally, SARS-CoV-2 is considered to be a reportable disease by the Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Prior to testing for SARS-CoV-2, your pet will be tested for more common causes of respiratory illness. The following is exerpted from the Idexx Laboratory website:
“Testing of symptomatic pets in COVID-19 infected households may not always be indicated as clinical signs, when present, may be mild and transient. The IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test may be considered when investigating respiratory disease in ferrets or cats after more common respiratory infections have been ruled out. Consultation with a local health authority prior to considering testing for COVID-19 in a pet is recommended. Testing should be limited to those animals with known or strongly suspected COVID-19 exposure. For cats presenting with respiratory signs, a Feline Upper Respiratory Disease (URD) RealPCR Panel should be considered prior to evaluating for SARS-CoV-2 infection, even in cats from a COVID-19 positive household. Ferrets presenting with respiratory signs should be evaluated with an Influenza Virus RealPCR Panel in addition to testing with the IDEXX SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) RealPCR Test.”
Why do cats seem to be prone to infection with Covid-19, but so far dogs do not appear to be susceptible? It is likely genetic.
If you have questions or concerns about Covid-19 and your pet, please call us at 518-785-5531.