A pet cat has tested positive for the coronavirus in Hong Kong after its owner was confirmed positive too.
Hong Kong’s Agricultural and Fisheries department said the animal has not shown any signs of the disease.
Samples collected from the cat’s mouth, nose and rectum tested positive for the coronavirus after it was sent to quarantine on Monday. Authorities said the cat will continue to be monitored and examined.
Can a cat or any pet transmit coronavirus?
In a notice on Tuesday 31 March, the department said there is currently no evidence that pet animals can be a source of coronavirus, therefore owners should not abandon their pets.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also confirmed there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit the coronavirus.
The cat is the third animal to test positive in Hong Kong, following earlier cases in which two dogs tested weak positive or positive during repeated tests for the virus.
According to a statement from the Hong Kong Veterinary Association, there has only been one other reported case of coronavirus in a cat — in Belgium — which is believed to have become infected from its owner.
The Veterinary Association said the most likely way pets would be exposed to the virus is from their owners or other people they come into contact with, and the cases were no cause for alarm.
If you’re feeling ill, should you keep your distance?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), if you suspect you have coronavirus or tested positive for the virus, it is recommended you keep your distance from your cat or dog, as you would any other human being.
“It is still recommended that people with the virus limit contact with animals until more information is known,” said the CDC.
“When possible, have another member of your household care for your animals while you are sick with COVID-19. If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wash your hands before and after you interact with them,” it added.
If the state public health veterinarian, or another public health official advises you to take your cat or dog to a vet, call your veterinary clinic before you go to let them know you are bringing a sick pet that has been exposed to a person with coronavirus. This will allow the clinic time to prepare an isolation area.