While pet owners are being urged not to panic, vets are advising cat owners to keep their feline friends indoors to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Transmission from humans to pets
So far there hasn't been any confirmed cases of cats becoming ill or infecting a human with coronavirus. However, when a cat in Belgium tested positive for the virus a week after its owner showed symptoms, scientists in China found evidence that infected cats could transmit the virus to other felines.
Cats may be susceptible to infection from droplets released into the air when a person breathes out, sneezes or coughs.
Keep felines indoors
Vets believe it's sensible to keep cats indoors during the pandemic to reduce any potential risk of spreading the virus. This is particularly important if someone in the household shows symptoms of COVID-19 as cats can carry the virus in their fur for a period of time.
While you may already think of your cat as part of the family, vets are encouraging owners to treat their pets like other members of their household. Therefore, if you are feeling unwell, don't interact with them and keep up good hand hygiene at all times.