Cats can catch coronavirus, study finds

A new study out Wednesday (8 April) found cats can catch the coronavirus.

It's prompted the WHO (World Health Organization) to say it will take a closer look at the transmission of the virus between humans and pets.

The study was published on the website of the journal Science, and found that ferrets can also become infected with the virus.

However it found dogs appear not to be vulnerable, as well as chickens, pigs and ducks.

The study was aimed at identifying which animals are vulnerable to the virus, so they can be used to test experimental vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The study, based on research conducted in China in January and February found when researchers attempted to infect the animals, cats had the virus in the mouth, nose and small instestine.

It also found felines can infect each other through respiratory droplets.

And that kittens exposed to the virus had massive lesions in their lungs, nose and throat.

Based on the evidence so far, WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove has warned:

"We don't believe that they are playing a role in transmission but we think that they may be able to be infected from an infected person."

Heads turned last week over a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City.

It showed symptoms of a dry cough and loss of appetite and then tested positive for the coronavirus last Sunday.

However, zoo managers have confirmed the big cat, two other tigers, and three lions are expected to recover.

For pet owners at home the data backs up what health professionals calls for people who have COVID-19 to distance themselves - not only from household members - but now also from their pets.