MetaCats: Domestic Cats Coronaviruses & Microbiome

The project, launched in 2020, aims at investigating the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses in domestic cats, along with their microbial communities or microbiomes.

While the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic produced by the virus SARS-CoV-2 has been well studied to address the effect on human health, little is known about the effect that the virus might have on domestic animals, especially in cats.


Pet ownership has been pointed to as an important factor in determining the human microbiome, from skin to gut.

Recent studies suggest that pets can help to the development of a healthy immune system, while others point that they could act as potential carries of pathogens.

Cats are part of our household. They are more than companion animals to some of us. It is estimated that almost 1 million cats are in New York City alone, and over 95 million across U.S.

Recent studies suggest that cats might be more permissive to the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection, however we lack field studies to test this hypothesis and to understand the transmissibility of the virus in these animals.



Created by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017


AIM: To Study the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses in domestic cats, along with their microbial communities or microbiomes.


Registration is easy and will let you know if you and your cat qualift for the study


Participation is entirely free and all supplies will be shipped to your home for your use


Our upmost priority is the safety of yourself and your cat. Sampling is safe and simple.


By registering for this project you are supporting citizen-science and contributing to important research.

In order to participate in the study, you need to own at least one cat. If you are interested, please register below.

"I received a sample kit? What should I do next?"

Once you have a sample kit, you’re ready to begin!

Press the link below and enter some information regarding you and your cat! If you have multiple cats, you need to fill out the form more than once.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I participate in the MetaCATs project if I live outside the United States?

As of now we are not registering participants outside the United States. If you are interested in participating and you do not live in the United States, please reach out to us via email and we will keep you informed if we launch internationally.

When will I receive results about my cat's sample?

From the time the sample arrives at the lab it will take at least 1 month for samples to be processed, sequenced and analyzed. The results are not diagnostic and cannot be used to diagnose any disease or illness.

If my cat is shown to have SARS-CoV-2, virus that causes COVID-19, should I be worried?

Feline coronaviruses (Not the human COVID-19 disease) have been seen to be transmitted from animal to animal, not humans. However, there is no evidence on whether domestic cats play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2 or other human-specific coronaviruses. At this time, there is limited evidence that pets can become infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and no evidence that any animal or pet can infect humans with the new coronavirus.

Is it safe to swab my cat?

By following the sample protocols your cat will not come to any harm. We take your cat and your safety as an upmost priority. If at any point you feel as if you and your cat will be harmed, do not continue with sampling. If your cat has any disease of the mouth, tooth decay, wounds in the mouth, or is injured in any way, DO NOT sample your cat.


The team is comprised of researchers, scientists, students and scholars all with the same goals in mind.


Maria Sierra

Project Director


Krista Ryon

Project Director

05_04_15_mhc_macaulayluncheon.Ebrahim Afshinnekoo

Ebrahim Afshinnekoo



Christopher Mason

Lead Investigator

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