Cats recover from COVID-19 very quickly, scientists want to find out why

It is unclear what fallout the findings of this study will have for Israel, which has a famously large population of feral felines roaming the streets and alleys.

International Cat Care | The ultimate resource on feline health and welfare

By AARON REICH

Scientists at Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies (LLU) have taken to studying the progression of the coronavirus in cats, after it was discovered that not a single cat in the country has tested positive despite several possessing antibodies, Latvian Television, the state broadcaster, reported last week.

Cats are one of the most popular pets for humans, and often live closely with them. This is especially true in Latvia, which has Europe’s second highest percentage of cats ownership per household per capita.

At the start of the pandemic, many worried that the virus could potentially affect their favorite feline friends.

While it has been well documented that felines – from domestic cats to big cats such as lions – are capable of contracting COVID-19, they appear to recuperate at a far quicker pace compared to humans. Consequently, not a single cat in Latvia has ever tested positive for the virus. However, many have tested positive for antibodies, which indicates that they had at some point been infected.

This prompted LLU researchers to test 130 different cats, some at animal shelters and some from homes where people tested positive for COVID-19. Based on their findings, cats have not only caught and overcome the virus, but have even developed a way to fight it off.

The findings support a Live Science report released last spring which found that a cat in Belgium tested positive for COVID-19, but was fully recovered in just nine days.

“Cats are likely to spread this virus very briefly, because even in cases where contact with a positive person has been very close and cats show clinical signs – inflammation of the upper respiratory pathways, we have failed to detect this Sars Cov-2 RNA in cat respiratory samples. In some cases, antibodies have been detected,” LLU Veterinary Medicine Faculty deal Prof. Kaspars Kovalenko said, according to Latvia Television.

In total, Kovalenko explained that if cats do show symptoms, they only do so for about two to three days. After that, they show excellent signs of recovery.

It is unclear why cats resist the virus so quickly, but scientists theorize it could be congenital immunity or another genetic factor. Ultimately, this is the question scientists want to answer, and why they are studying recovered cat patients.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are a number of animal species that are able to catch the coronavirus, including pigs, cattle, ferrets, hamsters, tree shrews and minks. But for the LLU researchers, cats are the most important species to study.

The reason for this, according to LLU’s Dr. Gundega Murniece, is because “Cats are in very close contact with their humans. They are household members. And they are, among other things, a connection to a household with a foreign environment. In other words, the cat is the primary animal that we want to test,” Latvia Television reported.

It should be noted that while cats can contract coronavirus, there is no evidence that suggests it can infect humans with it, though the CDC does suggest that they can possibly transmit it to other cats.

It is unclear what fallout the findings of this study will have for Israel, which has a famously large population of feral felines roaming the streets. In fact, some estimate the country’s cat population as being over 2 million strong. For comparison, in 2018 the number of haredim was found to be just 1 million individuals.

With such constant exposure to humans, it is unclear how many Israeli cats could have contracted and then recovered from the virus.

Read More
%d bloggers like this: