A household case evidences shorter shedding of SARS-CoV-2 in naturally infected cats compared to their human owners

Víctor Neira, Bárbara Brito, Belén Agüero, Felipe Berrios, Valentina Valdés, Alberto Gutierrez, Naomi Ariyama, Patricio Espinoza, Patricio Retamal, Edward C. Holmes, Ana S. Gonzalez-Reiche, Zenab Khan, Adriana van de Guchte, Jayeeta Dutta, Lisa Miorin, Thomas Kehrer, Nicolás Galarce, Leonardo I. Almonacid, Jorge Levican, Harm van BakelAdolfo García-Sastre, Rafael A. Medina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has been detected in domestic and wild cats. However, little is known about natural viral infections of domestic cats, although their importance for modelling disease spread, informing strategies for managing positive human-animal relationships and disease prevention. Here, we describe the SARS-CoV-2 infection in a household of two human adults and sibling cats (one male and two females) using real-time RT–PCR, an ELISA test, viral sequencing, and virus isolation. On May 5th, 2020, the cat-owners tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Two days later, the male cat showed mild respiratory symptoms and tested positive. Four days after the male cat, the two female cats became positive, asymptomatically. Also, one human and one cat showed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. All cats excreted detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA for a shorter duration than humans and viral sequences analysis confirmed human-to-cat transmission. We could not determine if cat-to-cat transmission also occurred.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-383
Number of pages8
JournalEmerging Microbes and Infections
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • domestic cats
  • households
  • natural infection
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • viral shedding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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