The UK’s chief veterinary officer has confirmed that the virus responsible for Covid-19 has been detected in a pet cat in the UK.
The infection was confirmed following tests at the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) laboratory in Weybridge on 22 July.
Government officials said although this is the first confirmed case of an animal infection with the coronavirus strain in the UK, there is no evidence to suggest that the animal was involved in transmission of the disease to its owners or that pets or other domestic animals are able to transmit the virus to people.
Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “Tests conducted by the Animal and Plant Health Agency have confirmed that the virus responsible for Covid-19 has been detected in a pet cat in England.
“This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within a few days.”
She added: “There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans. We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change.”
Yvonne Doyle, medical director at Public Health England, said: “This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for Covid-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm.
“The investigation into this case suggests that the infection was spread from humans to animals, and not the other way round. At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans.”
Doyle concluded: “In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.”
Caroline Reay, head of veterinary services at national pet charity Blue Cross said: “The government has confirmed there is no evidence to suggest the animal was involved in the transmission of Covid-19 to their owners or that pets or other domestic animals are able to transmit the virus to people.
“The advice remains that people should wash their hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.”