The 16-year-old cat lived in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania in a home "with multiple individuals who had previously been diagnosed with COVID-19," the Pennsylvania Department of Health said Tuesday.
Health officials said the cat had a mild respiratory illness in early October.
"Unfortunately, as a result of respiratory distress, the cat was humanely euthanized," the health department said.
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Officials said the case is still under investigation and a primary cause of death has not yet been confirmed.
The cat, officials said, is one of a handful of COVID-19 positive pets from across the country that died or were euthanized while infected.
"All pets infected had known prolonged exposure to COVID-19 individuals and none to date appear to have died from COVID-19," the health department said. "Instead, other serious underlying illnesses are attributable to cause of death."
"As Pennsylvanians have spent more time at home throughout the pandemic, our companion animals have undoubtedly been the recipients of extra love and attention," State Veterinarian Dr. Kevin Brightbill said. "If you or a loved one becomes diagnosed with COVID-19, take steps to keep your pet healthy, just as you would your family."
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To help protect pets, health officials said households with COVID-19 positive individuals should adhere to the following guidelines:
- Avoid contact with pets and other animals, as you would other people.
- Arrange for another household member to care for your pet(s) while you or family members are in isolation.
- Avoid contact such as petting, holding, snuggling, facial contact, and sleeping in the same bed.
- Wear a mask and wash your hands before feeding or tending to your pet if you are unable to find alternative care for them.
Symptoms of COVID-19 in pets include fever, coughing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, lethargy, sneezing, nose or eye discharge, vomiting, or diarrhea. If your pet exhibits symptoms after contact with a person positive for COVID-19, contact your private veterinarian.
At this time, health officials said there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading COVID-19 to people.
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