PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania officials have confirmed the first case of the coronavirus in a cat.
State veterinarian Kevin Brightbill said the Cumberland County cat was diagnosed earlier this month. It had to be euthanized after going into respiratory distress.
Although the primary cause of death has not yet been confirmed, Brightbill said the 16-year-old cat lived in a house in which multiple people had been previously diagnosed with COVID-19.
Only a handful of pets across the country have picked up the virus. All of them had prolonged exposure, but according to Brightbill, they also had other major underlying illnesses.
“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.”
He advises pet owners who have been infected with COVID-19 to protect their animals by:
• Avoiding contact with pets and other animals, as you would other people;
• Arranging for another household member to care for your pet(s) while you or family members are in isolation;
• Avoiding contact such as petting, holding, snuggling, facial contact, and sleeping in the same bed;
• And wearing a mask and washing 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.
Health officials say at this point, there is no evidence that animals can spread COVID-19, as it is mainly spread person-to-person.