Cats experimentally infected with Sars-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19 in humans) were able to infect other cats, with whom they lived in the same cage, without any of them manifesting clinical changes resulting from the infection.
The statement is from a group of American and Japanese researchers and was published as a letter to the editor, last Wednesday (13), in the New England Journal of Medicine, one of the most respected medical journals in the world.
This is the first study that attests to the ability of the virus to transmit between cats, even if experimentally infected.
The research, however, is important to note, has no data on transmission from cats to humans and there is no documented case in the world of any patient who contracted the disease because of a cat.
Before this study, what the researchers had managed to prove, in a article published in the journal Science, was the presence of the virus' genetic material in the body of healthy cats placed in contact with experimentally infected cats. Presence of genetic material only, but not an infectious virus – as the study authors themselves differentiate more than once.
Now, the investigation takes another step.
The group of researchers from the universities of Tokyo and Wisconsin-Madison inoculated Sars-CoV-2, isolated from infected humans, into the nostrils of three cats and, the next day, put each of them in contact with an uninfected cat.
Three to five days after the coexistence between cats started, infectious viruses were recovered from the nasal cavity of healthy cats (those that had not been experimentally inoculated) and continued to be detected for five to six days in the body of all the cats in the study. —Both the inoculated ones as well as those infected by the contacts. Tests on cat feces were negative throughout the research.
The group follows the narrative with what is perhaps the most important point in the letter, according to Yoshihiro Kawaoka, study leader and professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine. "Although there have been reports of infected and symptomatic cats in some countries, none of the cats in our study had symptoms, including abnormal body temperature, weight loss or conjunctivitis."
This means that, although the virus has been able to replicate in the organism of the studied cats, animals in good health seem to overcome the infection in about six days, without becoming ill.
On the other hand, what should now be the target of investigations is the extent to which the feline species can be an asymptomatic host of Sars-CoV-2 for at least one week.
“It is necessary for public health to recognize and investigate the potential chain of human-cat-human transmission,” write the researchers.
Undoubtedly, it is necessary to investigate this and many other aspects of the new coronavirus. Science is the only way out of the global health crisis.
This does not change, however, the fact that there is NO case of a sick human in which the origin of the virus has been linked to a cat.
This does not change the fact that our main form of contagion (beyond documented) is contact with other humans.
This does not change the fact that, with regard to Covid-19, the danger to our life is in contact with the human species and not with the cats.
So, dear reader, do not abandon your cat, because it poses less of a risk to your health than your spouse, children and grandchildren.
Instead, protect your pet feline by preventing him from accessing the street or restricting your contact with him if you are ill.
"People should keep in mind that if they are quarantined at home and worried about not transmitting Covid-19 to the family, they should also be concerned with protecting pets," says researcher Peter Halfmann.
Basically, what the research suggests so far is that possibly cats can catch the virus from us. We are dangerous to them. Not them for us.