Hold on to your cats!
The rapidly-spreading coronavirus can be transmitted between your feline pets, according to a new Chinese study.
Researchers at Harbin Veterinary Research Institute found that cats are not only susceptible to contracting COVID-19 but can pass it on to their furry friends as well.
But other animals — such as dogs, chicken and pigs — are not likely to catch or spread the virus, the study found. And there is no direct evidence that cats would be able to infect people.
“We found that SARS-CoV-2 replicates poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens, and ducks, but efficiently in ferrets and cats,” reads a summary of the study. “We found that the virus transmits in cats via respiratory droplets.”
The study has not yet been peer-reviewed, however, experts not involved in the study said the findings were credible.
Professor Jonathan Ball, a virologist at the University of Nottingham, told The Guardian that similar observations of transmission in cats had been made in relation to the SARS virus.
However, he stressed that cats aren’t a major culprit in spreading the coronavirus, which has so far infected more than 1 million people globally.
“Human to human transmission is clearly the main driver, so there is no need to panic about cats as an important source of virus,” he told the outlet.
“Obviously, if you think you have COVID-19 and share a house with a cat, then it would be sensible to limit close interactions with your furry friend until you are better.”
The study comes after a cat in Belgium tested positive for the coronavirus last Friday — after catching the potentially deadly bug from an infected owner.