State Veterinarian Dr. Kevin Brightbill announced that Pennsylvania has confirmed its first COVID-19-positive cat.
The 16-year-old Cumberland County cat, who lived in a household with multiple individuals who had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19, presented in early October with mild respiratory illness. Unfortunately, as a result of respiratory distress, the cat was humanely euthanized. The case is still under investigation, and a primary cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
The Pennsylvania cat is one of a handful of COVID-19-positive pets from across the United States that died or were euthanized while infected. All pets had known prolonged exposure to COVID-19 individuals and none to date appear to have died from COVID-19. Instead, other serious underlying illnesses are attributable to cause of death.
“All Pennsylvanians have spent more time at home throughout the pandemic, our companion animals have undoubtedly been the recipients of extra love and attention,” said Brightbill. “If you or a loved one becomes diagnosed with COVID-19, take steps to keep your pet healthy, just as you would your family.”
Many of the same recommendations for protecting people apply to animals. To help protect Pennsylvania pets, households with COVID-19-positive individuals should adhere to the following guidelines:
– Avoid contact with pets and other animals, as you would other people
– Arrange for another household member to care for your pet(s) while you or family members are in isolation
– Avoid contact such as petting, holding, snuggling, facial contact, and sleeping in the same bed
– Wear a mask and wash your hands before feeding or tending to your pet if you are unable to find alternative care for them
Symptoms of COVID-19 in pets include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, lethargy, sneezing, nose or eye discharge, vomiting or diarrhea. If your pet exhibits symptoms after contact with a person positive for COVID-19, contact your private veterinarian.
At this time, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19 to people. COVID-19 is mainly spread through person-to-person contact.