“These are the first pets in the United States to test positive,” the US Department of Agriculture announced on Wednesday in a joint statement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The agencies emphasized that there is no evidence pets play a role in spreading coronavirus in the United States. “There is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare,” they said.
The two cats were tested after they showed respiratory symptoms, according to the agencies, and they join the ranks of a lion and a tiger in New York who were previously confirmed to be infected.
According to CNN, a veterinarian tested the first house cat after it showed mild respiratory signs, but none of the humans in its household were confirmed to have the virus.
It’s possible, officials said, that the cat was infected by somebody outside the home. Someone inside the house, with mild or no symptoms, could have also transmitted the virus.
The second cat, in a separate area of New York, was also tested after it showed signs of respiratory illness. The owner of the pet had tested positive for COVID-19 before the cat became ill.