HARRISBURG—Pennsylvania has its first case of COVID-19 in the feline population, according to state Veterinarian Kevin Brightbill.
The 16-year-old Cumberland County cat resided in a household with multiple individuals who had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19, presented in early October with mild respiratory illness.
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.
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 infected 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.
“As 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 includes 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.