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How do I test my cat for Covid?

Animal Health Diagnostic Center

Cornell University

Improving the health of animals, animal populations and wildlife

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Business Hours — Monday-Friday: 8:00am to 5:00pm; Saturdays: 9:00am-1:00pm

In this section :

Testing Protocols & Interpretations

  • Abortion Samples
  • Anaerobic Transport Media Inoculation Protocol
  • Anaplasma, Ehrlichia and Babesia Testing
  • Anthrax Sample Collection and Shipping Guidelines
  • Apixaban Anticoagulant Monitoring
  • Aseptically Collecting Bacterial Culture Samples at Necropsy
  • Avian and Reptile Estimated White Blood Cell Count
  • Blood Culture Technique
  • Bovine Enteric Aerobic Culture and E. coli Genotyping PCR
  • Bovine Viral Diarrhea Persistently Infected Animals
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid Technique
  • Brucella Multiplex Testing for Dogs
  • Bulk Milk Tank Testing
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Canine Adrenal and Pituitary Function Tests
  • Canine Influenza H3N2 FAQ
  • Canine Influenza H3N2 Updates
  • Canine Influenza Virus
  • Canine Reproductive Function Tests
  • Canine Thyroid Testing
  • Canine, Feline and Equine Metabolic Function Tests
  • Citrate Plasma Samples
  • Clinical Chemistry
  • Clinical Pathology Panels and Guidelines
  • Comparative Coagulation Submission Guidelines
  • Coronavirus PCR Guidelines
  • Culturing Technique for Contagious Equine Metritis
  • Cytology
  • Dermatopathology Samples
  • Endocrinology Submission Guidelines
  • Environmental Mastitis
  • Equine Cytokine 5-plex Assay
  • Equine Enteric Coronavirus
  • Equine Female Reproductive Testing
  • Equine Infectious Anemia Testing
  • Equine Male Reproductive Function Tests
  • Equine Metabolic Syndrome (EMS) Testing
  • Equine Pituitary Pars Intermedia Dysfunction
  • Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM) Testing
  • Equine Thyroid Testing
  • Feline Adrenal and Pituitary Function Tests
  • Feline Coronavirus (FCoV) RT-PCR
  • Feline Reproductive Function Tests
  • Feline Thyroid Tests
  • Flags for Review of CBCs
  • Gram Stain Protocol
  • Hematology
  • Hemophilia B in German Pointers
  • Heparin Monitoring
  • Hepatopathology Specialty Service
  • Hygiene Recommendations for Horse Handlers
  • Immunology
  • In situ hybridization
  • Johne’s Direct Fecal PCR Test
  • Johne’s Disease Program
  • Keeshonden PHPT Genetic Test
  • Klebsiella Mastitis Prevention and Control
  • Leptospira Microagglutination Testing
  • Lyme Disease Multiplex Testing for Dogs
  • Lyme Disease Multiplex Testing for Horses
  • Minnesota Easy Culture System II
  • Mycoplasmal Mastitis
  • OFA Testing
  • Parasitology
  • Pet Food Testing for Possible Contamination
  • Pooled BVD PCR Testing
  • Primary Hyperparathyroidism (PHPT)
  • Protein C Activity Assay
  • QMPS DC305 Pathogen Codes and Information
  • Quantitative D-Dimer Assay
  • Rabies Samples
  • Rabies or Canine Distemper?
  • Regulatory Testing Tips
  • Rivaroxaban Anticoagulant Monitoring
  • Salmonella Rapid Surveillance
  • Salmonella: Bacterial Culture and PCR Testing Explanation
  • Samples Requiring Nucleic Acid Extraction
  • Sampling for Toxicology Screens
  • Sensititre Antimicrobial Panels
  • Shar-Pei Autoinflammatory Disease (SPAID)
  • Staph aureus Herd Infection Control
  • Streptococcus agalactiae (Strep ag)
  • Streptococcus equi Strangles Culture
  • Strongyloides papillosus
  • Thyroid Testing Interpretation
  • Urinalysis
  • Virus Isolation Diagnostic Testing
  • Vitamin K Deficiency
  • West Nile Virus Diagnostic Testing
  • Zonisamide
  • CVM
  • Animal Health Diagnostic Center
  • Testing
  • Testing Protocols & Interpretations

Feline Coronavirus (FCoV) RT-PCR

Feline Coronavirus (FCoV) is a common viral infection in cats. It generally causes asymptomatic infection, but can cause mild diarrhea. As yet poorly understood changes in the virus can give rise to mutants that lead to the development of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). Most cats infected with a FCoV eliminate virus following infection, but some cats may develop a persistent infection. These cats are generally asymptomatic, can shed large amounts of virus in feces, and serve as a continual source of infection for other cats in the environment. Continual circulation of FCoV within a cat population may increase the chance that a virulent FIP strain might emerge. While the pathogenesis of FIP is poorly understood, it is now believed that detection and removal of persistently infected and shedding cats in a multi-cat household can reduce the risk of FIP emergence within that population.

In response to the increased interest within the cat breeding and cat owning community, the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University now offers a fecal RT-PCR test for FCoV. This test can be used to identify asymptomatic FCoV shedding cats so steps can be taken to isolate them from other cats or to prevent their introduction to a resident population. Samples required for the fecal RT-PCR screening test are 2-5 grams fresh feces. When screening an individual cat in a multi-cat household it is important to positively identify the source of the fecal sample. Mixing of fecal samples from multiple cats may result in an inaccurate result. Feces should be stored in a clean plastic bag to prevent dehydration.

In clinical FIP suspect cats, the test can also identify FCoV in ascites fluid, whole blood, plasma, serum or fresh tissues (kidney, liver, or spleen). Samples from FIP-suspects should include 1-2 ml of fluid (ascites, whole blood, serum, or plasma) or 1-2 grams of fresh tissues.

All samples should be shipped in a leak-proof container to the laboratory by overnight courier on ice packs for optimal test outcomes.

Fecal FCoV RT-PCR tests should be interpreted cautiously. Single positive or negative tests are meaningless as cats may shed intermittently or may be recently infected. To be identified as a chronic shedding carrier, a cat should be fecal virus positive on multiple tests over an 8-month period. A cat that tests negative on monthly tests over a 5-month period of time may be considered a non-shedder. (Addie D.D., Jarrett O. 2001 Use of a reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction for monitoring the shedding of feline coronavirus by healthy cats. Veterinary Record. Vol 148. pp. 649-653.)

In a cat with clinical signs consistent with FIP, FCoV RT-PCR positive results on fluids or tissues may indicate active FIP. FCoV RT-PCR positive results in tissues from a clinically normal cat are only indicative of infection with FCoV.

How do I test my cat for Covid?


Contact Information

Veterinary Public Health Program
313 N Figueroa St. Rm 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel (213) 288-7060
Fax (213) 481-2375

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Los Angeles County SARS-CoV-2 Testing for Animals

raccoons eating from a pet food bowl outsideimage of a doctor writing notesvarious domestic animals

**As of March 30, 2023 — Free SARS-CoV-2 testing of pets and other animals is on hold.**


Veterinary Public Health has received funding from the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to support surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in animals in Los Angeles County. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes COVID-19. This project will help us to learn more about COVID-19 from a One Health perspective, meaning that we can learn more about the significance of COVID-19 in human, animal, and environmental relationships.

Some of the funds will support local testing of animals for SARS-CoV-2. We will partner with and offer free testing to various animal care facilities and agencies throughout LA County. Our goal is to test many different species of animals including wildlife (deer, bats, raccoons), pets (dogs, cats, hamsters, pocket pets), marine mammals (seals), and more.

For questions or to contact us about testing an animal for SARS-CoV-2:

  • Email us at or
  • Call us at 213-288-7060 (ask to speak to the veterinarian-on-call) — Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm

free testing of pets for SARS-CoV-2

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For veterinarians and animal care facilities:

  • If you are interested in testing animals for SARS-CoV-2 through this grant, please contact us to request test kits
  • To report a SARS-CoV-2 positive or suspect animal, complete this reporting form and submit to

*For pet owners:

  • To find out if your pet can be tested for SARS-CoV-2 through this grant, please contact us. If your pet is ill, please consult with your veterinarian.
  • Your pet may be eligible for free testing if the following apply:
    • Your pet was exposed to a person with COVID-19 within the past 7 days (for example your pet lives in a household where a person had symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 7 days).
    • Your pet has symptoms of COVID-19 and was exposed to a person with COVID-19 within the past 7 days (for example, you had symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 7 days and your pet becomes sick).
      • Symptoms of COVID-19 in animals may include:
        • Fever
        • Coughing
        • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
        • Lethargy (unusual lack of energy or sluggishness)
        • Sneezing
        • Runny nose
        • Eye discharge
        • Vomiting
        • Diarrhea
        • Loss of appetite
        • Some animals with COVID-19 are asymptomatic (have no symptoms)
        • The first symptoms in your household should have appeared within the prior seven days
        • A household member must be present at the time of testing and be able to physically collect the sample (throat swab) from the exposed pet.
          • Our staff will provide you the test kit but are not able to swab the pet or handle/hold your pet for you
          • SARS-CoV-2 Reporting Form
          • Submittal of this form does not automatically qualify a pet for testing
          • Our staff will contact you to set up an appointment and will come to your home to provide a sampling kit for a household member to collect the sample from the pet(s). The sample will then be given back to the VPH personnel who will take it to the lab for testing.
          • We will be requesting more detailed exposure information on your pet
          • Veterinary Public Health will provide you the testing results within 10 business days via email or phone

          Diagnostic Testing Results Summary for SARS-CoV-2 in Animals in Los Angeles County

          For more information on COVID-19 and animals, please visit here.

          Infographics that can be shared on social media:

          did you know that pets can be sick with SARS-CoV-2was your pet exposed to COVID?

          Related resources

          Last updated: March 30, 2023

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