AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council approved a $65,000 grant this week that will help local researchers determine if COVID-19 can be spread by cats, according to the Austin Humane Society.

The funding will go to the AHS and Austin Animal Center along with Texas A&M and the Texas Department of State Health Services so that they can research COVID-19 in cats — specifically, whether the virus in animals poses a risk to humans.

Cats for the study will come from Community Cats, a trap-neuter-return group in Travis County. Throat swabs will be taken from the cats that are sedated while being neutered. Those swabs will be tested.

“We are very excited to be participating in this ground-breaking study,” said Dr. Katie Luke, Chief Operations Officer for AHS. “There is still a lot we don’t know about coronavirus and how it mutates, so we hope this study will help to identify best practices moving forward, and help understand potential sources of mutated viruses that affect human health.” 

The grant is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists.