Nearly 10% of domestic cats in France have been ill with coronavirus

(ORDO NEWS) — Biologists from France have found in the course of studying blood samples from more than two thousand cats living in France that about one in ten of them suffered a coronavirus infection in the first two years of the pandemic.

This once again confirmed the high vulnerability of these pets to COVID-19.

“We analyzed over 2,000 randomly selected blood samples from cats and about 3,600 blood samples from dogs collected during routine visits to veterinarians.

Our analysis showed that antibodies to coronavirus were present in the blood of approximately 5% of dogs and 10% cats, which indicates the high vulnerability of the latter in relation to SARS-CoV-2,” the researchers write.

Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19 disease, can enter the body not only of humans, but also of many other mammals.

Among them, as shown by recent experiments by biologists and observations of veterinarians, are rhesus monkeys, minks, ferrets and cats, on which the infection acts almost as strongly as on humans.

A group of biologists led by Eric Leroy, a researcher at the University of Montpellier (France), conducted one of the largest studies on how the coronavirus actively spreads among the two most common types of pets, cats and dogs.

Both those and others are actively infected with COVID-19, but so far scientists cannot say exactly how often this happens.

Cats and Coronavirus

To obtain such information, scientists studied randomly selected blood samples collected by veterinarians in different regions of France between October 2020 and June 2021, during the second and third waves of the pandemic.

Scientists have extracted antibodies from these samples and monitored whether their molecules are able to combine with various fragments of the SARS-CoV-2 envelope.

The analysis carried out by biologists showed that such antibodies were present in about four hundred blood samples of dogs and cats, which is about 7% of their total number (5.6 thousand samples).

Approximately 27% of these antibodies actively bound to and neutralized the coronavirus particles, suggesting the long-term and serious nature of the infection affecting four-legged carriers of these molecules.

In this respect, scientists note, cats have been found to be significantly more vulnerable to COVID-19 than dogs.

Nearly 10% of them contracted the coronavirus, twice the rate for dogs, and cats were 75% more likely to have more severe forms of the disease that resulted in powerful neutralizing antibodies.

Interestingly, scientists have not recorded sex and age differences in the frequency of infection of cats with coronavirus, which is typical for humans and other primates.

In addition, scientists have recorded discrepancies in the frequency of infection of cats in different regions of France.

For example, their share was minimal in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region (4.3%), while in the Center-Loire Valley every fourth pet (26.9%) was ill with the coronavirus.

Follow-up observations, Leroy and his colleagues hope, will help to understand the reasons for such discrepancies.

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