A new study finds that the more closely we watch an animal, the more likely it is to be infected with COVID.
The results, published in the journal PLOS ONE, were based on a national dataset of 5,068 live and dead cats and dogs and also from a nationally representative database of cats and other pets.
The study also looked at dogs, dogs, cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs.
The research team looked at the dogs’ risk factors for COVID, including blood and saliva samples and whether or not they had a COVID infection.
The researchers also looked into the risk of infection to the cats and whether they had any other infections.
The findings were surprising to the researchers, who were initially skeptical that the cats would show any signs of infection.
“We thought, ‘OK, the cats are just going to sit there and eat cat food,'” said researcher Andrew Hoechst.
“But we found that cats who have been exposed to COVID may actually get sick.”
So what do we know about what’s behind this correlation?
Hoeichst and his colleagues were surprised to find that the relationship between the number of cats, the frequency of cats in a community and the prevalence of COVID was much more pronounced for people living in close proximity to cats.
In other words, the higher the number, the less likely someone is to get sick.
And when you consider that the average person has about 2,400 to 3,000 cats in their homes, that means that the higher numbers of people living near cats in the community are actually increasing the likelihood that they will get sick, the researchers wrote.
“People in close contact with cats are at increased risk for infection,” Hoeochst told Live Science.
“That’s a finding that should alarm anyone who has ever been to a community gathering where there are a lot of cats.”
The findings suggest that the number and frequency of people in close quarters, whether they’re neighbors or people on the street, can also have an effect on how sick a person is.
“In our community, people with close-in contact are at much greater risk for contracting COVID,” Hoeschst said.
“And this is one of the reasons why it is so important that you work with your neighbors to help reduce the spread of COVEV.”