House cat tests positive for COVID in Arkansas, school says
A house cat in central Arkansas tested positive for COVID-19, the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture announced Tuesday.
Heidi Ward, extension veterinarian for the division, said the Arkansas Department of Health recently confirmed the cat had been infected.
It’s the first cat in the state to test positive, the university said. It’s since recovered and is said to be healthy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there’s limited information on whether animals can spread the virus to humans, but the risk is considered to be low.
But it’s believed that humans can pass COVID-19 to animals.
Ward reminded pet owners that those who test positive for COVID-19 should take care to stay away from their pets.
“People need to be aware that they should distance themselves from their pets if they have tested positive for COVID,” Ward said in a news release. “Animals infected with the virus typically develop mild to moderate respiratory symptoms.”
She said that means no cuddling, sharing food or sleeping in the same bed with pets.
If you do test positive for the coronavirus, she recommends considering finding someone to pet sit until you’re healthy. The Human Society of the U.S. says to consider choosing someone ahead of time — perhaps a family member or friend — to take over if you fall ill.
It also suggests keeping a list of your dog’s medications and dosing handy as well as stocking up on food and other supplies.
Those who suspect their pets may have contracted COVID-19 are encouraged to contact their veterinarian for guidance.
Since the onset of the pandemic, more than 100 animals in the U.S. have contracted COVID-19, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These include house pets — dogs and cats are among the most frequently infected — as well as larger animals.
Lions, tigers, snow leopards and gorillas have all been reported as contracting the virus, according to data from the USDA.
Last year, news broke that several tigers at the Bronx Zoo had contracted the virus. These tigers recovered, but it was announced Sunday that a tiger in a Swedish zoo had to be euthanized following complications from COVID-19, Forbes reported. The tiger was sick for two days during which it lost its appetite before presenting with respiratory distress and neurological symptoms, according to the outlet.
The virus also proved fatal for several mink in Utah that were found dead on two farms last year, McClatchy News previously reported. They tested positive for the virus posthumously.
To help prevent your pet from contacting COVID-19, the CDC recommends limiting your pet’s interaction without people outside your household and disinfecting any toys, leashes or water bowls you might take with you to a dog park or other locations where there are pets or people present.