Cats in New York State are first U.S. pets infected with coronavirus

Two weeks after veterinarians confirmed Covid-19 in a tiger at the Bronx Zoo, the CDC and USDA said two cats in New York State were the first pets in the United States to be diagnosed with coronavirus infections. The cats, which are expected to recover fully from mild respiratory illness, live in separate areas of the state, authorities said on Wednesday.

There is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the virus, said the USDA in a statement. Coronavirus infections have been reported in few animals worldwide, and in most instances, they had close contact with a person who had Covid-19.

One of the cats came from a household where no one was confirmed to be ill with Covid-19. The USDA said the animal may have gotten the virus from a household member who did not appear sick or through contact with someone outside the household. The owner of the other cat tested positive for Covid-19 before the cat showed signs of illness. Another cat in the household remained healthy.

The CDC recommends keeping cats indoors when possible to minimize their exposure to the coronavirus and to avoid interaction with pets and people from other households.

The Bronx Zoo said on April 10 that Nadia, the female Malayan tiger diagnosed with Covid-19, “continues to improve, along with the other three tigers and three African lions that exhibited similar symptoms.”