Detection and Genome Sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in a Domestic Cat with Respiratory Signs in Switzerland.

Klaus, Julia; Meli, Marina L; Willi, Barbara; Nadeau, Sarah; Beisel, Christian; Stadler, Tanja; Sars-CoV-Sequencing Team, ETH; Egberink, Herman; Zhao, Shan; Lutz, Hans; Riond, Barbara; Rösinger, Nina; Stalder, Hanspeter; Renzullo, Sandra; Hofmann-Lehmann, Regina (2021). Detection and Genome Sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 in a Domestic Cat with Respiratory Signs in Switzerland. Viruses, 13(3) Molecular Diversity Preservation International MDPI 10.3390/v13030496

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Since the emergence of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in late 2019, domestic cats have been demonstrated to be susceptible to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) under natural and experimental conditions. As pet cats often live in very close contact with their owners, it is essential to investigate SARS-CoV-2 infections in cats in a One-Health context. This study reports the first SARS-CoV-2 infection in a cat in a COVID-19-affected household in Switzerland. The cat (Cat 1) demonstrated signs of an upper respiratory tract infection, including sneezing, inappetence, and apathy, while the cohabiting cat (Cat 2) remained asymptomatic. Nasal, oral, fecal, fur, and environmental swab samples were collected twice from both cats and analyzed by RT-qPCR for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA. Both nasal swabs from Cat 1 tested positive. In addition, the first oral swab from Cat 2 and fur and bedding swabs from both cats were RT-qPCR positive. The fecal swabs tested negative. The infection of Cat 1 was confirmed by positive SARS-CoV-2 S1 receptor binding domain (RBD) antibody testing and neutralizing activity in a surrogate assay. The viral genome sequence from Cat 1, obtained by next generation sequencing, showed the closest relation to a human sequence from the B.1.1.39 lineage, with one single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) difference. This study demonstrates not only SARS-CoV-2 infection of a cat from a COVID-19-affected household but also contamination of the cats' fur and bed with viral RNA. Our results are important to create awareness that SARS-CoV-2 infected people should observe hygienic measures to avoid infection and contamination of animal cohabitants.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


05 Veterinary Medicine > Research Foci > Host-Pathogen Interaction
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP) > Institute of Virology and Immunology
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Infectious Diseases and Pathobiology (DIP)

UniBE Contributor:

Stalder, Hanspeter, Renzullo, Sandra


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Molecular Diversity Preservation International MDPI




Pamela Schumacher

Date Deposited:

13 Jul 2021 09:49

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:51

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

COVID-19 One-Health SARS-CoV-2 companion animals contamination domestic cat human-to-feline transmission neutralizing activity next generation sequencing serology




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