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Cats could potentially be infected with COVID-19, but no need to worry, says Winnipeg vet

Coronavirus: Pets and COVID-19, the fears and risks
WATCH ABOVE: Physical distancing is not just for humans, experts say that the rules apply to your pets as well. Albert Delitala explains.

Worrying about a COVID-19 infection from other humans is stressful enough, but news that a tiger in New York’s Bronx Zoo tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes the disease has many worrying about their domestic pets as well.

According to Winnipeg veterinarian Dr. Ron Worb of Anderson Animal Hospital and Wellness Centre, pet owners shouldn’t be too concerned but they should still remain cautious.

READ MORE: Tiger at Bronx Zoo tests positive for coronavirus — U.S. officials

“The major source of our transmission is going to be human to human,” Worb told 680 CJOB.

“Pertaining to our pets, based on the morphology and the structure of the kind of virus this is, it isn’t completely surprising that cats in particular potentially could be infected.

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“If they do get infected, that doesn’t mean they’re going to become ill, but the nature of this virus is such that cats would be more susceptible of all the different species.”

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READ MORE: Got coronavirus symptoms? Avoid your pets just like you’d avoid people, vets say

Worb said that at this point, the virus is “not a big deal” for pets but that common-sense health measures should be taken.

Veterinarian Dr. Ron Worb.
Veterinarian Dr. Ron Worb. Anderson Animal Hospital

“The take-home message for me would be, especially if a pet owner is infected, you want to limit contact with your pet and any other pets. I think social distancing doesn’t just apply to us humans; I think it should apply to the whole household,” Worb said.

“If our pets are out for a walk, I think they should still keep that social distance from other people and other animals.

“There might be some viral particles on the pet, and in a very short period of time, if a susceptible person happened to touch that pet, is it theoretically possible? Potentially, but most people are going to get it from their human counterparts.”

Worb said it’s a very challenging situation for veterinarians, and while he wouldn’t be surprised to hear of more cats getting infected, he says it’s more likely a human would transmit the virus to the cat, rather than vice versa.

Can your pets contract COVID-19?
Can your pets contract COVID-19?