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COVID-19 & Cats Study

Risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection in household cats: a One Health approach in British Columbia


The BCCDC and the BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries are interested in examining the transmission of the COVID-19 virus to domestic animals, particularly household cats. Recent evidence of natural infections suggest that some animals can be infected and indirectly transmit the COVID-19 virus. This study will look at the risks of COVID-19 virus transmission from humans to cats and will help fill important information gaps on companion animals and COVID-19.

Estimated Commitment

Participate in 2 short surveys (15 minutes each) over the phone prior to sample collection and ability to place cat(s) in a carrier outside at the front door at two separate sampling times.

What's Involved?

You will be asked to partake in a pre-sampling survey over the phone before each scheduled sample collection date. If your cat tests positive, sampling will continue every week until a negative test result is found. This is a contact-less study; you will be asked to place your cat(s) in a carrier outside the front door for the sample collection team. You do not need to have a cat carrier, the team will provide you with a sanitized carrier. A mobile station will be set up outside your home to test your cat(s) and bring them back to you. If you have more than one cat, we can sample up to three cats within one household. 

Safe and humane manual restraint methods will be used to minimize stress to the cat and maintain safety for both the cat and the sampling team. The sampling team is comprised of experienced animal care professionals who will use fear-free handling techniques. If these methods are not successful, the sampling team will make the decision not to proceed with sampling on that day and repeat on another day, or they may decide to not sample the cat at all if it is too stressful on the cat. 

Procedures Required

The following samples will be collected from cats ONLY:GettyImages-1202392886.jpg

  • blood sample (3 ml)
  • nasal/oral swab
  • rectal swab

Samples will be collected twice with 10 days (max) between each sample collection.

If you have questions about the study please email the project coordinator:

Eligibility Requirements

Inclusion Criteria

  • There is one or more laboratory-confirmed, human COVID-19 case in the household (symptomatic or asymptomatic cases are acceptable)
  • Date of lab confirmation of one or more COVID-19 case(s) in the household is 7 days or less before first cat sampling visit for this study
  • COVID-19 case(s) in the household are being managed at home and not in a hospital, care facility, or other setting at the time of recruitment
  • Residence is within the Lower Mainland of British Columbia
  • One or more adults in the household has given consent to participate in study

Exclusion Criteria

  • Date of lab confirmation of all COVID-19 case(s) in the household is greater than 7 days before first cat sampling visit for this study
  • Participants under the age of 18
  • Participants living outside the Lower Mainland

If you're interested in participating, have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 5 days, and reside with a cat please email the project coordinator at with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Phone number
  • Date of confirmed positive result
  • City of residence

A team member will then reach out to you to discuss the study and answer any questions you may have. Once you have consented to participating in the study we will go through a pre-sampling survey over the phone and schedule a sample collection date. 


The sample collection team will come to you and set up a mobile testing station outside your residence. This will be a contact-less process where you will be asked to place your cat in a provided carrier outside your front door for the team. 


We have a rigorous sanitization protocol to ensure the safety of you, your pet, and the study team. 


You can withdraw your consent to participate at any point during the study. 

Principle Investigator

Dr. Erin Fraser, Public Health Veterinarian, BCCDC


Project Coordinator

Hattaw Khalid, Project Coordinator, UBC


Laboratory testing

Dr. Chelsea Himsworth, Veterinary Lead, BC Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Fisheries


Research Assistant

Talia Strang, UBC


Sample Collection Team

Dr. Doris Leung, Veterinarian 

Emily Segal, Vet tech

Funding for this study has been made possible through a contribution from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
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SOURCE: COVID-19 & Cats Study ( )
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