Two cats in New York become first pets in US to test positive for coronavirus

A cat, that is not eating or drinking, is looked over at the clinic at the San Diego Humane Society on April 21, 2020. - Two cats in New York have become the first pets in the US to test positive for the new coronavirus, officials said April 22. The cats live in separate areas of New York state, America's COVID-19 epicenter, the Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a joint statement. (Photo by ARIANA DREHSLER / AFP) (Photo by ARIANA DREHSLER/AFP via Getty Images)
Experts say there is no indication that cats are transmitting the virus to humans. (Getty)

Authorities in the US have confirmed that two pet cats have tested positive for coronavirus.

Both animals, who are thought to have contracted COVID-19 from people in their households or neighbourhoods, are expected to recover from mild symptoms of the illness.

The finding marks the first confirmed cases of companion animals developing coronavirus in the US.

It comes after positive tests in some tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo, and adds to a small number of confirmed cases of the virus in animals worldwide.

Earlier this month, the British Veterinary Association recommended cats from infected or self-isolating households should stay indoors to help stop coronavirus spreading.

US authorities say while it appears some animals can catch the virus from people, there is no indication pets are transmitting it to human beings.

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Dr Casey Barton Behravesh, an official from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) who works on human-animal health connections, said: "We don't want people to panic. We don't want people to be afraid of pets…

"There's no evidence that pets are playing a role in spreading this disease to people.”

However, the CDC is recommending people prevent their pets from interacting with people or animals outside their homes – by keeping cats indoors and dogs out of dog parks.

The USDA and CDC have recommended pet owners with COVID-19 avoid petting, snuggling or other contact with their animals as much as possible, including wearing a face covering while caring for them.

Coronavirus testing for pets is not recommended unless an animal has been exposed to a person with COVID-19 and the animal has symptoms of the disease – and tests have ruled out more common possible causes, according to the Dr Jane Rooney, from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).

A tiger at the Bronx Zoo had what was believed to be the first confirmed coronavirus case in an animal in the US.

The four-year-old Malayan tiger, named Nadia, was tested after starting to showing signs of illness on 27 March, 11 days after the zoo closed to the public because of the virus.

Three other tigers and three lions later showed symptoms. Tests subsequently confirmed they all had the virus, as did another tiger that shares their enclosured but did not show any signs of illness, the zoo said on Wednesday.

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