Two pet cats have become the first pets in the US to test positive for Sars-Cov-2 (COVID-19 coronavirus).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) postulated that the cats had contracted the virus from an infected human being.
The pet cats, who live in New York state, had mild respiratory illness before being diagnosed with the virus. They are expected to fully recover.
The CDC said that routine testing of animals for the coronavirus was not recommended and state health officials would take a lead in determining if animals should be tested.
The health institute added that there was still no evidence that pets played a role in spreading the virus and that people shouldn't take actions on their pets that "may compromise their welfare."
The institute's request follows reports across the world of people abandoning their pets over rumors that they are carriers of coronavirus.
The CDC released a list of recommendations to protect pets from the coronavirus. Some of them are as follows:
Do not let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
Walk dogs on a leash, maintaining at least 6 feet from other people and animals.
Avoid dog parks or public places where a large number of people and dogs gather.
The institute also cautioned COVID-19 patients to restrict contact with their pets.
To pet or to not pet?
A study conducted by the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute in China found earlier this month that the novel coronavirus could be transmitted between cats, but is unable to replicate easily in dogs. The study also revealed that felines quickly formed antibodies to the virus, leading them to not be contagious for a long time.
The coronavirus, however, does not restrict itself to pet animals. Earlier this month, a zoo in New York announced that Nadia, a 4 year-old Malayan tiger, had contracted the virus from an infected zookeeper.
am/rc (AFP, dpa)