COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The first cases of cats catching COVID-19 in Texas have been reported.
Texas A&M University has been testing pets whose owners were diagnosed with the virus. So far they have found three cats and one dog with the virus in Brazos County, and all the cases appear to be asymptomatic or very mild.
“When we were in contact with the pet owners later (after the test) one cat was reported to have sneezed for a few days and the dog was reported to be pretty tired,” said Dr. Sarah Hamer, associate professor at the Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
This marks the first time that a cat in Texas has been reported to have the virus. The first dog was reported back in July in Fort Worth, according to the Texas Animal Health Commission.
“Since late June we’ve had a study here at Texas A&M University where we’ve been interested in learning more about the virus that causes COVID-19 in animals, in particular pet dogs and pet cats that are already living with people that have been diagnosed with the virus,” said Dr. Hamer.
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News of pets contracting the virus has some pet owners like Scott Maclean worried. “A little concerning especially if it is communicable to humans. I had heard somewhere you shouldn’t kiss your dog but I’ve never been much of a dog kisser anyway,” said Maclean.
According to the CDC, there is no evidence that pets play a significant role in the spread of COVID-19.
Dr. Hamer said there are a few things pet owners diagnosed with COVID-19 should keep in mind so their furry friends don't also catch the virus. “You should try to protect your pets in the same way you would people. Isolate yourself and other people, ideally, that would mean distancing from your pets as well. We know that might be really hard to do especially if your home but at least wear a mask when in close proximity of your pet can help reduce transmission,” said Dr. Hamer.
Pet owners who think their pet is sick are encouraged to contact their veterinarian.
FOX 7 Austin is working to keep you up to date with coronavirus, with both local and national developments. You can also get the latest COVID-19 news from around the country at coronavirusnow.com.