Three other tigers and three African lions also had a dry cough, but only one tiger was tested because sample collection in these animals requires general anesthesia. All the affected big cats are expected to recover. The zoo has been closed to the public since March 16, but the first signs of illness weren’t seen until March 27.
On one hand, it’s not too surprising. If domestic cats are susceptible, wild cats should be too. On the other, there are some noteworthy aspects:
- Zoo cats generally don’t have much direct contact with their caretaker (though this varies by zoo). Infection of these cats was therefore presumably through very transient direct, or indirect, contact.
- Given the very limited testing of domestic cats to date, this yet again raises the question of how commonly domestic cats have been infected by owners in North America, given the large number of infected people and relatively high percentage of households with cats, and the much closer contact between people and pet cats (compared to zoo cats).