Woman with COVID-19 wearing mask near her cats

Key takeaway

Cats can get COVID-19 just like humans and many other mammals. In most cases, COVID-19 in cats isn’t serious, but there’s a small risk of it spreading to humans. Humans can also spread COVID to cats. If you think your cat has COVID-19, you should call your vet to talk about your treatment options.

COVID-19 is a big concern today, and you may be wondering how COVID-19 affects your pets, asking important questions like, “can my cat get COVID?”. The short answer is yes, cats can get infected with the COVID-19 virus just like humans can. The good news is, COVID-19 in cats is rare and there are typically no serious medical complications, so you don’t have too much to worry about when it comes to cats and COVID-19.

So, can cats get COVID from humans? The reality is that the COVID-19 virus can spread between most animals because it spreads via droplets that are released by coughing and sneezing. However, there is no evidence suggesting cats and dogs can spread COVID to humans. If you want to know more about COVID-19 in cats and how it’s treated, keep reading.

What Are The Symptoms Of COVID-19 In Cats?

While COVID-19 doesn’t typically cause any serious issues in cats, recognizing the symptoms is important. If you think your cat has COVID-19, you should talk to your vet about getting a diagnosis and treating COVID in your cat. Here are some of the symptoms your cat may experience with COVID-191:

  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Lethargy (unusual lack of energy or sluggishness)
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Eye discharge
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If your cat has several of these symptoms, you should call your vet and get their opinion. Fortunately, your cat isn’t likely to experience any serious medical issues as a result of COVID.

Graphic listing symptoms of COVID-19 in cats

How Are Cats Infected With COVID-19?

Cats get infected with COVID-19 the same way that humans do: through exposure to other infected individuals. Some cats may get infected with COVID-19 because their owner has it, while others may be infected by another cat or dog. Fortunately, transmission of COVID-19 doesn’t seem to be a huge risk with cats and dogs, so you don’t need to take any additional precautionary steps as a pet parent.2,3

Can Cats Transmit COVID-19 To Humans?

You may be wondering, can my cat get COVID-19 and pass it on to me? The good news is that there’s not much evidence that currently suggests that cats can transmit COVID-19 to humans. If there is a risk of cats transmitting COVID to humans, it’s very low, so you don’t have to worry about quarantining or doing anything out of the ordinary to prevent your cat from infecting you and your family. If your cat has COVID, feel free to let them cuddle on the couch and ensure they get plenty of rest and relaxation.3

Can Humans Transmit COVID-19 to Cats?

While there’s a very low risk of cats transmitting COVID to humans, humans can certainly transmit COVID-19 to cats. The risk of humans spreading COVID to cats is especially high when humans and cats come in close contact frequently. If you have COVID, you should try to avoid putting your face near your cat’s face. You may want to wear a mask to protect your pets and family from getting infected. If you have any questions about what you should do as a pet parent with COVID, you can always call your vet.3

Can Cats Be Tested For COVID-19?

When there’s something wrong with your cat, finding out what’s going on is an important part of the treatment process. So, can cats get COVID tests? The good news is, cats can be tested for COVID-19 just like humans can.

The tests that are being used right now are mostly designed for human use, and testing a dog or cat for COVID usually requires permission. That being said, there are labs that have developed COVID-19 tests that are specifically designed for pets, so you have options if you want to test your dog for COVID.2

Should I Quarantine From My Cat If I Have COVID-19?

As a pet parent, you might be worried about spreading COVID to your cat if you’ve recently become infected. Unfortunately, it’s very possible for infected pet owners to spread COVID to their cats and dogs, especially if you’re the type who likes to get close and really love on your animals. When you put your face near your animal's face or cough and sneeze, you can spread droplets that may contain the COVID-19 virus, which can lead to infection in animals.

You don’t have to quarantine yourself or your animals when you’re infected with COVID-19, but you should make an effort to limit your contact with your cat. You can still feed your cat and refill their water bowl if you need to, but you shouldn’t pet your cat and snuggle with your face against theirs as too much close contact can be risky. If you can, you should have somebody else care for your pets while you're sick. You might also consider wearing a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 via droplets.4

What Should I Do If My Cat Gets COVID-19?

If your cat gets COVID-19, getting them the proper treatment is important. The first thing you should do is call your vet if you think your cat has COVID. Your vet can make a more accurate diagnosis and give you tips for treating COVID in cats and keeping your cat comfortable.

Remember, you shouldn’t take your cat to the vet on your own if you have COVID-19. Instead, have somebody else take your cat to the vet for you, or use Dutch to schedule a telemedicine visit with a vet.

How Can I Limit My Cat’s Exposure To COVID-19?

The best thing you can do for your cat is limit their exposure to COVID-19. This starts with making sure your cat isn’t spending all their time outside and unsupervised. Cats who roam the neighborhood and spend a lot of time around other animals and people are more likely to get several diseases, including COVID-19. Plus, your cat can pass infectious diseases to other cats, even if they’re just a carrier for that disease.

It’s also recommended that you wash your hands before and after you handle your cat and deal with their litter box. While there’s not a ton of evidence that suggests humans are at risk of getting COVID-19 from cats, it’s best to practice good hygiene when a person or animal in your household is infected.2

Can Animals Carry COVID-19 On Their Skin Or Fur?

COVID-19 is typically spread through droplets, but can my cats and dogs get COVID on their skin or fur and pass it on to others? While certain bacteria and fungi can take hold in your cat’s fur or hair, there’s no evidence that suggests COVID-19 can be carried in the skin or fur of animals. Chances are you don’t have anything to worry about if you want to pet your cat or dog a bit when they have COVID.

Keep in mind that it’s important to practice good hygiene around animals even when they’re not sick. After you pet your cat or dog, you should wash your hands to make sure you’re not spreading any harmful bacteria from their skin or fur to your body. It’s especially important to wash your hands before you eat if you’ve recently interacted with your cat.5

Graphic listing which animal species can get COVID-19

Which Animal Species Can Get COVID-19?

According to recent research by the CDC, lots of animals are actually capable of being infected with COVID-19. Many mammals can get COVID-19, including cats, dogs, ferrets, hamsters, mink, pigs, rabbits, tree shrews, and white-tailed deer. Keep in mind that only some of these animals have been shown to spread the disease in a laboratory setting.3

Whether you’ve got a cat, a dog, or some other pet, COVID-19 is a real concern. Keep an eye out for symptoms of COVID in your pets and call your vet if you notice your cat appears sick or is acting unusually.

Cat owner and cat attending virtual vet appointment

Final Notes

COVID-19 isn’t exactly common in cats, but cats can get infected by coming into contact with infected people or animals. If you think your cat has COVID-19, it’s important that you call your vet and schedule an appointment to get a diagnosis. In most cases, COVID in cats isn’t a serious medical concern.

If you need help getting a diagnosis or treating a cat with COVID-19, Dutch can help. With Dutch, you can connect with vets and schedule an online video chat to talk about your cat’s health. Try Dutch today and see how easy finding a vet can be.

References

  1. “What You Should Know about Covid-19 and Pets.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 Nov. 2021, https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/covid-19/pets.html

  2. “Frequently Asked Questions Covid-19 and Feline Health.” Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, 14 May 2020, https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/coronavirus-update/frequently-asked-questions-covid-19-and-feline-health

  3. “Animals and Covid-19.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html

  4. “Preventing the Spread of the Coronavirus.” Harvard Health, 28 Feb. 2022, https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/preventing-the-spread-of-the-coronavirus#:~:text=The%20virus%20that%20causes%20COVID,wear%20a%20face%20mask

  5. Commissioner, Office of the. “Coronavirus and Keeping You, Your Family and Your Pets Safe.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/helpful-questions-and-answers-about-coronavirus-covid-19-and-your-pets#:~:text=Although%20we%20know%20certain%20bacteria,after%20interacting%20with%20them