Three pet cats killed in China after testing positive for COVID-19

Cats at home, photo: Canva
Cats at home, photo: Canva

Three pet cats who tested positive for coronavirus were killed in China, state-backed media reported. The owner of the cats tested positive for COVID-19 on September 21 in the northeastern Chinese city of Harbin.

She went into isolation after leaving food and water for her cats. Later, her three cats also tested positive and were euthanised by the local disease control agency, The Beijing News reported on Tuesday.

China has controlled most regional coronavirus outbreaks within weeks by enforcing mass testing and community lockdowns even when just a few cases are reported.

The authorities in Harbin said they killed the cats because there was no available treatment for animals with the disease, and the pet cats could have endangered their owner.

The owner had pleaded with authorities not to kill her cats, but they still killed the animals.

“I firmly disagree with this approach! To put it bluntly, it’s a crude, simplistic and lazy form of management, just in order to dodge responsibility,” one social media user posted on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

Pets often get coronavirus from their owners, a Dutch study found. “About one out of five pets will catch the disease [COVID-19] from their [infected] owners,” Dr Els Broens of Utrecht University said in July. “Luckily, the animals do not get very ill from it.”

They also found no evidence that pets can spread the virus to people.

Vanessa Barrs, a professor at the City University of Hong Kong, specialising in animal health and disease, said the risk of transmission from infected pets to people is low.

“So far, in the whole pandemic, there have been no confirmed reports of cat to human infection,” she said.

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