Two pet cats in New York have been infected with the novel coronavirus, becoming the first pets in the United States to test positive for the virus, federal agencies said.
The two cats, which live in separate areas of New York state, have shown mild symptoms and are expected to make a full recovery, according to a statement released by the US Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratories and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday, reported Xinhua news agency.
In the household of the first cat, no individual has tested positive for COVID-19, and experts believe the cat may have contracted the virus from an infected person outside its home, or from mildly ill or asymptomatic household members.
The second cat's owner had tested positive for COVID-19 before the cat showed signs of respiratory illness, according to the statement.
There is no evidence that pets play a role in spreading the coronavirus in the United States, said the statement. "Therefore, there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals that may compromise their welfare."
As public health experts and officials are still learning about the virus, the CDC recommends people to keep cats indoors, walk dogs on a leash and avoid crowded places like a dog park.
For those who are sick with COVID-19, experts suggest they should restrict contact with their pets and other animals.
Earlier this month, a tiger at New York City's Bronx Zoo tested positive for COVID-19 after developing a dry cough. Other six tigers and lions in the zoo also showed similar symptoms. They were considered to have been infected by a coronavirus-infected zoo keeper who exhibited no symptoms.
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