Covid-19 confirmed in pet cat in the UK

The UK’s chief veterinary officer has confirmed that the virus responsible for Covid-19 has been detected in a pet cat in the UK.

The infection was confirmed following tests at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) laboratory in Weybridge on Wednesday, July 22.

A government statement explained that although this is the first confirmed case of an animal infection with the coronavirus strain in the UK, there is “no evidence” to suggest that the animal was involved in the transmission of the disease to its owners or that pets or other domestic animals are able to transmit the virus to people.

The advice from Public Health England is for people to wash their hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.

“All available evidence suggests that the cat contracted the coronavirus from its owners who had previously tested positive for Covid-19,” a spokesman said.

“The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery and there was no transmission to other animals or people in the household.”

Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “Tests conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency have confirmed that the virus responsible for Covid-19 has been detected in a pet cat in England.

This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to-date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days.

“There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change.”

Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said: “This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm.

“The investigation into this case suggests that the infection was spread from humans to an animal, and not the other way round. At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans.”

The UK government is advising the public to wash hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.

The case has been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health in line with international commitments.

There have been a very small number of confirmed cases in pets in other countries in Europe, North America and Asia.