A few days ago reports came out that a Malayan tiger in the Bronx Zoo had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 syndrome in people.
Initially, calling the tiger “infected” was preliminary. After all, two pets in Europe had “tested positive,” still, researchers believed that high levels of novel coronavirus had entered their bodies from their humans, but not set up housekeeping.
Now, the tiger’s test results have been triple confirmed in veterinary laboratories. The six other coughing cats housed with her have been “presumed” to be infected with SARS-CoV-2. They were not tested, and there are currently no plans to test them.
Another important point: None of these big cats was particularly ill. Even though SARS-CoV-2 infected them, it did not infect them well.
Why? Because the mutation that took this coronavirus from its origins to humans did not mutate it to adapt well to additional species.
What does that mean for your dog and cat?
Probably that they are safe.
For an organism to infect one species does not necessarily convey danger for others, no matter how similar.
And, despite the fact that we call them “cats,” tigers and lions are genetically very different from our cat Frida Kahlo and your Fluffy.
A later mutation could change that outlook. But, for now, our pets seem to be safe.
CDC is warning pet owners that COVID-19-positive humans should avoid close contact with their pets. Don’t kiss them, don’t allow them to lick you, or share food.