NYC Tiger Tests Positive For Covid-19, Are Other Cats At Risk?

301 Vets discuss what the recent news of Covid-19 infection of lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo means for your cat or dog.


Bronx Zoo Tiger Tests Positive For Covid-19, Other Big Cats Also Likely Infected



The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a statement on April 5th confirming that a tiger at the Bronx Zoo tested positive for Covid-19 after several lions and tigers at the zoo demonstrated signs of respiratory illness.



Public health officials believe that the cats became infected after they were exposed to a zoo employee who was actively shedding the virus.  The tiger began showing symptoms on March 27.  According to the Wildlife Conservation Society website, all the large cats at the zoo showing signs of coronavirus infection are expected to recover and are currently active, but with with some signs of respiratory illness.  No other animals at the zoo were showing signs of sickness. Use the link provided to learn the details of how all the big cats at the Bronx Zoo are doing.



Remaining symptomatic lions and tigers were not tested because collecting diagnostic samples requires sedation. According to the USDA, the attending veterinarian did not believe that sampling all the patients was worth the risk and stress of anesthesia.



Can Cats and Dogs contract Covid-19?


To date 301 Vets know of three, confirmed instances of pets becoming infected with Covid-19.



  • A dog in Hong Kong repeatedly tested weakly positive for Covid-19 after spending time in close proximity to his owner who was infected with the illness.  The dog was quarantined and remained in good health and asymptomatic throughout his time in quarantine.  The dog, a 15-year old Pomeranian, later died of natural causes.
  • On April 3rdThe Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in China reported that cats are highly susceptible to Covid-19 and appear to be able to transmit the virus through respiratory droplets to other cats, however there were only five cats in the study. They concluded that dogs, chickens, pigs and ducks were unlikely to catch the infection.
  • On March 29th, Live Science reported that a cat in Belgium living with a person infected with Covid-19 developed signs consistent with Covid-19 infection including respiratory issues, vomiting and diarrhea.  A sample of the cat’s vomitus was sent to the lab at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Liège and genetic tests showed high levels of SARS-CoV-2 in those samples. The cat recovered after 9 days.


Despite these cases, Idexx laboratories, a global leader in diagnostic testing, reported that as of March 13th, Thousands of canine and feline specimens tested surfaced no positive results.”


Can Cats and Dogs Give Covid-19 To People?


At present, officials from the World Health Organization, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Center For Disease Control, and the United States Agricultural Department agree that it is very unlikely that dogs and cats can infect humans with Covid-19, but out of ‘an abundance of caution’ recommend that pet owners should refrain from close contact behaviors with their pet like snuggling, kissing, face licking and sharing food.  Pet owners who fear that they may be carrying, or who are sick, with Covid-19 should wash their hands before and after touching their pet.


Is There a Covid-19 Vaccine for Dogs or Cats?


No.  There is no Covid-19 for pets or people at this time.  Some pet owners will note that their dog was vaccinated for corona when he or she was a puppy, but this vaccine was for another strain of coronavirus.  Most veterinarians do not vaccinate puppies with canine-coronavirus vaccine any longer because they do not believe it is necessary.


Can Veterinarians Test Pets for Covid-19?


Yes, testing exists through the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois and a few other laboratories in U.S. and the world. There are many factors to take into consideration when deciding to have one’s pet tested for Covid-19.  Please contact us so that we can discuss your concerns and provide you with the best advice. The USDA and CDC do not recommend routine testing for the coronavirus in pets at this time. The test for animals is not the same as the one for humans, so no humans are deprived of testing if an animal is tested.


Should My Pet Wear A Facemask?


No. Placing a mask on your pet will not effectively minimize your pet’s chances of becoming infected.  If you are sick with Covid-19, you should wear a mask to avoid spreading the virus onto your pet’s fur if you sneeze or cough. If you are infected with Covid-19 and are trying to mitigate the risk of infecting your pet, minimize the amount of time you spend in close proximity with him or her.  Isolate yourself from your family and from your pet as much as possible. If you are the only care provider, wash your hands before and after interacting with your pet.


What Should I Do If I Think My Pet Has Coronavirus?


Call us and talk to us about your concerns.  Please be transparent about any exposure to coronavirus or illness that you may have had so that if we agree that a veterinary examination is warranted we can take the precautions we need to protect our team members.


Are Your Offices Open During The Covid-19 Outbreak?


Yes, as a healthcare provider for animals, we are an essential business and we are open.  To minimize the risk of infection, we have established a ‘curbside protocol’.  When you arrive to our practice with your pet, phone us and one of our healthcare providers will come to you to retrieve your pet and take it inside for treatment.  We ask that you remain outside in your car until we complete your pet’s examination and care.  We will then return your pet to you along with any medications he or she may need without you ever having to leave your car.





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