A Montreal cat tested positive for COVID-19 last month, after both of its owners were also confirmed to have caught the virus.
The diagnosis was performed as part of a study launched in January 2021 and conducted by Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, through which Montreal scientists have been researching the risks of infection of COVID-19 for cats.
A public report of the positive test was first made by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ), on February 25.
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The study’s lead researcher, Dr Cécile Aenishaenslin, says that although dogs seem able to contract COVID-19, they rarely leave their home without their owner, which lowers the risk of transmission. On the other hand, since it is much more common for cats to roam around outside, Aenishaenslin chose to make them the focus of the study.
Aenishaenslin’s team is the first one in Quebec to be studying this topic. The researcher is hoping to recruit at least 40 cats aged six months and older from a minimum of 30 different households where individuals have tested positive for the virus.
“According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, there haven’t been any reports of pets spreading COVID-19 to people,” declares the Canadian government’s page about animals and the risk of infection for COVID-19. “However, reports from the Netherlands and Denmark suggest that mink have infected some workers on mink farms. This is an area that continues to be studied.”
“The Public Health Agency of Canada tracks and analyzes research and case reports from around the world on COVID-19 and animals.”