Testing Positive for COVID-19: Two Cats and One Dog in the U.S.


Two additional cats turn out to be positive for COVID-19 caused by the novel corona virus, SARS-CoV-2, one cat in Carver County, MN and a second in Springfield, IL. Both homes have in common at least one person sick with COVID-19. While very rare, it’s obviously possible that cats can get the virus. Two other cats in the U.S. – both from New York State – were under the same circumstance positive for the virus. In all cases, the cats demonstrated mild signs. There’s no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted from cats (or dogs) to humans.

Regarding the Springfield cat, the Illinois Department of Public Health notes that the cat was in a home with people who had tested positive and became sick in mid-May.

The Minnesota Board of Public Health confirmed a Carver County cat was confirmed to be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans, seven days after its owner was confirmed to be infected with COVID-19. There is also a dog in the household and the attending veterinarian reports that that dog tested negative. The veterinarian said the cat was healthy five days after the initial clinic visit. The Minnesota Board of Animal Health and Minnesota Department of Health recommended the cat remain isolated at home for 14 days following the positive test results.

The Minnesota veterinarian reported that the cat presented at the clinic with a 105F temperature and symptoms consistent with upper respiratory illness. The veterinarian chose to collect a sample for SARS-CoV-2 testing based on the symptoms and the fact that the owner was confirmed to have COVID-19. All veterinary clinic staff reported wore personal protective equipment including face masks when interacting with the owner and handling the cat to limit any potential spread of the virus.

First Known U.S. Dog Positive for COVID-19

Simultaneously, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in a German Shepherd Dog in New York state. This is the first dog in the United States to test positive for SARS-CoV-2.

Samples from the dog were taken after it showed signs of respiratory illness. The dog is making a full recovery. One of the dog’s owners tested positive for COVID-19, and another showed symptoms consistent with the virus, prior to the dog showing signs. A second dog in the household has shown no signs of illness; however, antibodies were also identified in that dog, suggesting exposure – which is interesting.

Testing Animals and CDC/AVMA Recommendations

SARS-CoV-2 infections have been reported in a small number of animals worldwide, mostly in animals that had close contact with a person who was sick with COVID-19. At this time, routine testing of animals is not recommended. State and local animal health and public health officials will work with USDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make determinations about whether animals should be tested for SARS-CoV-2, using a One Health approach.

The USDA is tracking all positive results in animals on its website.

If you are sick with COVID-19 (either suspected or confirmed by a test), the American Veterinary Medical Association and Centers for Disease Control suggest that you restrict contact with your pets just like you would around other people. Ask another member of your household to care for your pets while you are sick. Another idea particularly for social dogs is to offer a “staycation” at a neighbor or friend’s house.

Cat (and dogs) with upper respiratory signs likely have any number of others explanations and not COVID-19. And do video the respiratory distress on your phone for your veterinarian to see.