Cats and COVID-19 an update from WSAVA

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COVID-19 – An update for WSAVA Members Week ending April 3rd, 2020  

Our COVID-19 update of March 27 ended with a STOP PRESS note about reports of a cat living in Belgium that was reported to be RT-PCR positive and clinically ill.   Following the publication of a manuscript showing cats and ferrets to be theoretically susceptible to infection by SARS-CoV-2 based on in vitro receptor binding, a naturally exposed cat in Belgium was reported (18/03).  The cat was living with a family member with COVID-19, was PCR positive for SARS-CoV-2, and had clinical signs of transient vomiting, diarrhea, and respiratory disease.  The cat recovered uneventfully and monitoring is on-going to determine whether it develops serum antibodies to the virus.  It cannot be determined with certainly that this cat was ill because of SARS-CoV-2.  

Data from SARS-CoV-19 experimental infection models in cats, ferrets and other species have started to appear in the literature and a pre-print of a SARS-CoV-2 experimental model currently undergoing peer review has been widely discussed on social media.  In this work, SARS-CoV-2 infection was induced in a number of species by inoculation of a high viral dose and some of the animals with primary infection, including cats, were able to pass the virus to other animals housed in close proximity.  Clinical signs of disease were recognized in some of the animals.   

This type of work helps us to understand the host range of COVID-19, the pathogenesis, and to develop further models for treatment and prevention studies.  However, the WSAVA One Health and Scientific Advisory Committees strongly emphasize that these types of studies cannot be directly correlated to what happens in the field.  Most importantly, we do not yet know whether the doses of SARS-CoV-2 used to initiate the primary infections of cats, ferrets, and dogs in the experimental studies would be achieved in a natural setting, where an infected owner is the source of infection.    

It should also be remembered that public health services around the world monitoring the spread of SARS-CoV-2, have again ended this week steadfastly stating that there is no evidence of transmission from companion animals to people.  As recommended in our Advisory, however, individuals who know they have COVID-19 should minimize direct contact with their pets to avoid potential transmission.  

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) released ‘interim recommendations for intake of companion animals from households where humans with COVID-19 are present’ late this week.

The document contains a reminder to house SARS-CoV-2 pets in the home if possible. It also says that bathing is not needed and that healthy exposed pets should be housed with minimal contact with others (pets and people) for 14 days while further information concerning the prevalence and duration of natural infections in cats is gathered.

A webinar on this topic was released on April 2, in which Prof. Mike Lappin represented the WSAVA and Colorado State University with Mr Jim Tedford the President & CEO of The Association for Animal Welfare Advancement and Dr Julie Levy from the University of Florida.  Dr Levy is actively involved in the American Association of Shelter Veterinarians which worked closely with the CDC and AVMA on the recommendations. 

Webinar Printscreen

Watch the webinar here In the United States, more of our regulatory agencies are announcing relaxation of telemedicine restrictions to aid veterinarians in helping companion animals while maintain social distancing for more routine cases.  The announcement for Colorado veterinarians came just yesterday.  You can read it here:  We hope that other states and countries will follow suit.  

Colorado Order Printscreen

Read the full announcement here These were the key developments this week so WSAVA would like to end by reminding you that, if you haven’t checked it for a few days, please re-visit the WSAVA’s COVID-19 resource hub as we have added content in new languages this week. With this in mind, WSAVA should, of course, thank their hard-working Translation Committee for its magnificent work to translate content, sometimes overnight, to make it as accessible to as many of our members as possible.   We thank you too for all you are doing to continue to care for your patients and reassure their owners.  Please keep yourselves and your families safe in these difficult times.

Michael R. Lappin, DVM, PhD, DACVIM (Internal Medicine)The Kenneth W. Smith Professor in Small Animal Clinical Medicine, Colorado State UniversityChairman, WSAVA One Health Committee

Visit the WSAVA COVID-19 resource hub here  

On behalf of the WSAVA Secretariat,     Rebecca George PR Consultant

World Small Animal Veterinary Association:

Vision Statement: All companion animals worldwide receive veterinary care that ensures their optimal health and welfare
Mission Statement: To advance the health and welfare of companion animals worldwide through an educated, committed and collaborative global community of veterinary peers

World Small Animal Veterinary Association, 72 Melville Street, Dundas, Ontario L9H 2A1, Canada

First cat suspected of having the human novel corona virus in Belgium

The Brussels times is quoting a Belgian virologist who states that the University of Luik has a suspect cat with SARS-CoV2 in its stool, possibly after being infected by the owner.

Coronavirus: Belgian cat infected by owner

This was mentioned in a press conference by virologist Stephen van Gught. The cat started showing clinical signs including vomiting, diarrhea and dyspnea one week after the owner has clinical signs. And the virus was found in the stool of the cat using RT-PCR. Van Gucht stressed the fact that this is a transmission possibly from a human to a cat and not vice versa. Having genetic material present in the stool does not mean the cat has (had) an active infection.

New global veterinary surgery podcast is out!

Download on your favorite podcast platform!

The next Veterinary Surgery Podcast is out and now downloadable. We will be talking about great resources for COVID-19 information including the WSAVA websites: and Clinician’s Brief: We also share some positive news about COVID-19 at the end of the podcast.

Haderslev, March 2020

On my last trip (for a while), I had the pleasure to do a reconstruction lab for E-Vet, located in Haderslev, Denmark. We had 2 days of immersive reconstructive surgery in dogs and cats with a wonderful group of veterinarians. I will be discussing this course in the upcoming podcasts and talk about tension relieving techniques here.

Also, we have an interview with Dr. Jonas Bylin, a Swedish surgeon currently in the UK about his passion for surgery. Did you know one of his favorite things to do is TPLO’s? I tend to call them the spays of orthopedics b ut he really enjoys doing them. Jonas gives great insights about what it is to be a general surgeon in a busy practice.

Last but nor least we are discussing this article: Third eyelid gland neoplasms of dogs and cats: a retrospective histopathologic study of 145 cases. Vet Ophthalmol. 2016 Mar;19(2):138-43. doi: 10.1111/vop.12273. Adenocarcinoma is the most common tumor of the third eyelid and although not very common in dogs and rare in cats, there is a an easy cure by taking out the third eyelid. For tips, check here:

Third eyelid adenocarcinoma in a dog

Last, but not least, we discuss the advantage of telemedicine in horrid times like this. It is the best solution for you and your clients and I would strongly urge you to check out a new FB page:

Thats is it for now. Keep on cutting, be safe and wash you hands!

‘No evidence that COVID-19 can be contracted from pets’

Press Information

WSAVA Moves to Reassure Pet Owners

No evidence that COVID-19 can be contracted from pets’

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) has moved to reassure pet owners following the news that a dog in Hong Kong, quarantined after it had tested positive for SARS- CoV-2 has died. The dog had been released after two weeks of quarantine having subsequently tested negative for the virus.

The dog, a 17-year-old Pomeranian, had shown no clinical signs of COVID-19. However, it did have significant unrelated health problems including cardiac and renal issues and is believed to have passed away from these and old age, possibly exacerbated by the stress of quarantine away from familiar surroundings. The WSAVA confirms that there is no evidence that the dog contracted COVID-19, nor that it could have passed the viral cause to another human or animal.

On March 19, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) in Hong Kong announced that a second dog, a German Shepherd, had also tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. The dog was quarantined after its owner was confirmed with COVID-19. Although the dog has tested positive, it has no clinical signs of disease. Another dog from the same residence has tested negative for the SARS-CoV2. It also has no relevant clinical signs and has been quarantined. The dogs will continue to be tested for the remainder of the quarantine period.      

 WSAVA President Dr Shane Ryan said: “While there is still much we don’t know about COVID- 19, we do know that the Pomeranian dog did not die from the virus, and the second dog is also showing no signs, either of the disease or of being able to transmit it to other pets or people. The current evidence still strongly indicates that COVID-19 cannot be contracted from pets.” 

The WSAVA says its priority is to support its member veterinarians who care for companion animals around the world and it urges pet owners not to panic and, instead, to continue to care for their companion animals and to enjoy their company. In difficult times, such as these we face today, says the WSAVA, pets can play a very positive role, providing companionship to the isolated and lonely.

The WSAVA’s Scientific Committee and One Health Committee have worked together provide Advice to its members and pet owners, which can be found here:

Dr Michael Lappin, chair of the WSAVA’s One Health Committee and Dr Mary Marcondes, Co- Chair of the WSAVA Scientific Advisory Committee, recommend that veterinarians remind owners to:

  • keep their companion animals with them if they are self-quarantined
  • maintain good hygiene practices, including washing hands when interacting with their pets
  • arrange care for any animals left at home with family or friends should they be hospitalized
  • contact their veterinarian immediately if they have questions or concerns.

On March 13, IDEXX Laboratories, an international provider of veterinary diagnostics and owning a pet which are even more important as so many of us are now having to limit contact with other people.

“We urge pet owners to listen to their veterinarian’s advice and to follow our recommendations to keep themselves and their companion animals safe.”

The WSAVA represents more than 200,000 veterinarians worldwide through its 113 member associations. Its core activities include the development of WSAVA Global Guidelines in key areas of veterinary practice, including pain management, nutrition and vaccination, and the provision of continuing education.

For further information:

Contact WSAVA PR Consultant, Rebecca George Email:

Tel: +44 (0) 7974 161108/+44 (0) 1449 737281

March 20, 2020

Important news from WSAVA

Press Information

WSAVA Calls for Veterinary Clinics to be Classified as ‘Essential Businesses’ Globally

Dr. Shane Ryan, President of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association

The  World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) is calling on governments and veterinary authorities globally to ensure that veterinary hospitals and clinics are classified as ‘essential businesses’ and  are able to continue to offer all necessary care to patients during the COVID-19 emergency. 

As governments seek to introduce risk mitigation measures that may involve the closure of non-essential businesses, the WSAVA is concerned that veterinary hospitals and clinics may also be forced to cease operating. Such a move says the WSAVA will jeopardise the welfare of countless animals, many of which are vital companions to people who are at risk of suffering increased stress and loneliness because of the need to self-isolate.

WSAVA President Dr Shane Ryan says: “We fully support the risk mitigation measures being introduced as part of the global fight against COVID-19, but we are concerned at reports from some of our members that they have been asked to close their doors.  Veterinarians and their teams deliver essential medical care for animals, ensure animal health and welfare, and support the human/companion animal bond by protecting these deep and important relationships.

“As part of our continuing responsibility to care for our animal patients and their owners, we call on governments to recognize all veterinary hospitals and clinics as essential businesses in any situation in which non-essential businesses are asked to close for COVID-19 risk mitigation.” 

The WSAVA represents more than 200,000 veterinarians worldwide through its 113 member associations.  Its core activities include the development of WSAVA Global Guidelines in key areas of veterinary practice, including pain management, nutrition and vaccination, and the provision of continuing education.   

For further information:

Contact Rebecca George, George PR


Tel: +44 (0) 7974 161108/+44 (0) 1449 737281

March 20, 2020