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First cat in Pennsylvania tests positive for COVID-19

The 16-year-old feline from Cumberland County had to be euthanized due to respiratory distress

SCRANTON, Pa. — Pet owners in Pennsylvania have one more thing to worry about. The state announced the first case of COVID-19 in a cat from Cumberland County.

The cat was living with other people who previously caught the virus and needed to be euthanized.

"That's pretty scary knowing that your pets can get it, and they can't tell you what's wrong with them, to begin with," cat owner LaRae Seymour of Factoryville said.

The state said symptoms of COVID-19 in pets are similar to those in humans, including fever, coughing, difficulty breathing, nose or eye discharge, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Dr. Keith Dorton is a veterinarian at Scranton Animal Hospital. He said cats and ferrets are among the most susceptible to coronavirus. However, it's highly unlikely for your pet to catch the virus unless someone in your home is sick.

"If your pet is going to get it, it's going to acquire the disease from an infected family member. So, it really appears to be almost zero risk to say a cat that goes indoors and outdoors for a cat to bring it into a family member that way," Dr. Dorton said.

The state suggests if you have a pet and you have coronavirus have someone else take care of them for you or isolate yourself from your pet and wear a mask whenever you feed them.

"They again would probably develop very mild symptoms, if any at all," Dr. Dorton said.

At this point, the state said there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19 to humans. It's mainly a disease spread from person-to-person.

"It's theoretically possible that a pet could transmit it with a human family member with close contact," Dr. Dorton said.

If your pet shows any symptoms of COVID-19 after being with someone who's tested positive for the virus, contact your vet immediately.

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