Although domestic cats are susceptible to infection with SARS-CoV-2, the role of the virus in causing feline disease is less well defined. We conducted a large-scale study to identify SARS-CoV-2 infections in UK pet cats, using active and passive surveillance. Remnant feline respiratory swab samples, submitted for other pathogen testing between May 2021 and February 2023, were screened using RT-qPCR. In addition, we appealed to veterinarians for swab samples from cats suspected of having clinical SARS-CoV-2 infections. Bespoke testing for SARS-CoV-2 neutralising antibodies was also performed, on request, in suspected cases. One RT-qPCR-positive cat was identified by active surveillance (1/549, 0.18%), during the Delta wave (1/175, 0.57%). Passive surveillance detected one cat infected with the Alpha variant, and two of ten cats tested RT-qPCR-positive during the Delta wave. No cats tested RT-qPCR-positive after the emergence of Omicron BA.1 and its descendants although 374 were tested by active and eleven by passive surveillance. We describe four cases of SARS-CoV-2 infection in pet cats, identified by RT-qPCR and/or serology, that presented with a range of clinical signs, as well as their SARS-CoV-2 genom


© 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

Cite as

Jones, S., Tyson, G., Orton, R., Smollett, K., Manna, F., Kwok, K., Suarez, N., Logan, N., McDonald, M., Bowie, A., da Silva Filipe, A., Willett, B., Weir, W. & Hosie, M. 2023, 'SARS-CoV-2 in domestic UK cats from Alpha to Omicron: Swab surveillance and case reports', Viruses, 15(8), article no: 1769. https://doi.org/10.3390/v15081769

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Last updated: 04 September 2023
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