U of M study: Cats more susceptible than dogs to coronavirus infection early in pandemic

Researchers at the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine found early on during the COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota, household pets were most susceptible to being infected with the virus than dogs.

The study, published in Journal Virulence, involved researchers testing samples of archived blood serum from cats and dogs taken to the veterinary center between mid-April and mid-June of 2020. The samples were collected from 239 cats and 510 dogs.

The research team tested the samples for the presence of antibodies to determine past exposure to SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19. They found eight percent of the cats and less than one percent of the dogs tested positive for the antibodies.

The lead scientists on the study say understanding how susceptible pets are to the virus could have "significant impacts" for both human and animal health.

The team is working on a second study with samples collected during the latter months of 2020 when Minnesota was near its peak COVID-19 positivity rate for humans. Those results are still pending release, but appear to show pets are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2.