The SARS-CoV-2 Reproduction Number R0 in Cats

Gonzales, Jose L.; Jong, M.C.M. de; Gerhards, N.M.; Poel, W.H.M. van der


Domestic cats are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 virus infection and given that they are in close contact with people, assessing the potential risk cats represent for the transmission and maintenance of SARS-CoV-2 is important. Assessing this risk implies quantifying transmission from humans-to-cats, from cats-to-cats and from cats-to-humans. Here we quantified the risk of cat-to-cat transmission by reviewing published literature describing transmission either experimentally or under natural conditions in infected households. Data from these studies were collated to quantify the SARS-CoV-2 reproduction number R0 among cats. The estimated R0 was significantly higher than one, hence cats could play a role in the transmission and maintenance of SARS-CoV-2. Questions that remain to be addressed are the risk of transmission from humans-to-cats and cats-to-humans. Further data on household transmission and data on virus levels in both the environment around infected cats and their exhaled air could be a step towards assessing these risks.