In the third recorded case of humans to the animal transmission of COVID-19, the disease brought by a highly infectious novel coronavirus, a Belgian woman has reportedly infected her pet cat with the virus.
First Known Cat to Get Infected
According to a report by The Brussels Times, the woman from the Liège province first showed symptoms associated with COVID-19 a week before the cat was infected.
The cat lived in close contact with its coronavirus-infected owner and soon showed symptoms of the virus and was then checked by the veterinary medicine faculty in Liège, to which they had found the virus in the cat's feces.
"The cat had diarrhea, kept vomiting, and had breathing difficulties. The researchers found the virus in the cat's feces," said Professor Steven Van Gucht.
However, they did not disclose whether the cat is still alive or what its current condition is.
Previous Cases of Man to Animal Transmission
This was not the first time that a human has infected an animal, as previously, two dogs in Hong Kong were also infected with coronavirus from their owners.
The first-ever known case of human to the animal transmission of the virus SARS-CoV-2 was recorded in Hong Kong, when an owner infected a 17-year-old Pomeranian, according to The Daily Mail.
Unfortunately, the dog died after getting home from quarantine and was previously declared clear from the virus.
After the Pomeranian, a German Shepherd in Hong Kong also contracted the virus from its owner.
Now, the cat in Belgium is the third case of human to animal viral transmission, and the first cat to ever get infected by the coronavirus disease from its owner.
Cat Owners are Terrified
With the news, cat owners fear for their lives, and some were even asking for their pets to be rehomed.
BBC reported that local animal shelter in England has received several calls from worried cat owners and had been asking whether their pets could be rehomed as they fear someone with COVID-19 might pet the cat outdoors, and they will get infected.
However, the animal shelter, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO), is adamant that there is no evidence that pets could infect humans with COVID-19.
Coronavirus Strains in Animals
Nevertheless, there exist coronavirus strains that affect both dogs and cats, namely the canine coronavirus (CCV) that could be highly contagious among dogs, as well as feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which could be caused by a feline coronavirus.
Unlike COVID-19 and previous coronavirus strains that have affected humans, CCV affects dogs differently as it attacks their intestines and causes abdominal pain for a short amount of time.
The same goes for cats that have been affected by a feline coronavirus, although the virus could also hit other organs and systems.
Unfortunately, both coronavirus strains in cats and dogs have no known treatments.
Additionally, Metro noted that there had been no increase in animal coronaviruses.
Still, it is best for pet owners to call their vets first to help reduce the risks of spreading any infectious disease, plus owners who are positive with COVID-19 should also take the necessary hygienic measures to reduce the chances of infecting their pets.