Austin to participate in national COVID cat study

The Austin Humane Society (AHS) and Austin Animal Center (AAC) will be participating in a national study into coronavirus in cats.

AHS and AAC are teaming up with Texas A&M University and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to conduct the study, which aims to determine if there are coronaviruses circulating or mutating among animals that could potentially pose a risk to humans. 

The Austin City Council approved a $65,000 grant from the CDC and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) Thursday to fund the study.


The Austin Humane Society and the Austin Animal Center are participating in a study to determine if coronaviruses are circulating or mutating among animals.

As part of the study, AHS will take throat swabs during the neuter process from already-sedated cats caught as part of its Community Cats program. The samples will be sent to Texas A&M, where experts will determine if coronavirus is present. If the virus is detected, they will run more specific tests to identify whether it’s feline coronavirus, SARS CoV-2, or a different coronavirus. 

Positive samples for SARS CoV-2 will be sent to the National Veterinary Diagnostic Lab for confirmation and gene sequencing to identify if there are mutations. Finally, DSHS will assist in reporting the findings to the CDC, says AHS.