A CAT in Belgium has become the first feline on the planet to test positive for coronavirus.
According to a report in the Brussels Times, a cat in Liège tested positive for the virus.
The pet was tested after demonstrated several recognised symptoms of COVID-19, including difficulty breathing.
Health officials noted that the diagnosis comes a week after the cat’s owner fell sick from the deadly virus.
“The cat had diarrhoea, kept vomiting and had breathing difficulties. The researchers found the virus in the cat’s feces,” professor Steven Van Gucht told the Belgian news outlet.
Professor Van Gucht was keen to stress that, in this instance, the owner most likely passed her illness onto the pet cat and similar occurrences are unlikely.
“We want to stress that this is an isolated case,” he told the Belgian newspaper. “The risk of animal-to-human transmission is very small.”
The Brussels Times provided no further information on the current condition of the cat or its owner following the positive test.
The case represents the first known infection of a cat.
Two dogs previously tested positive for coronavirus in Hong Kong, with one – a 17-year-old Pomeranian – eventually succumbing to the deadly virus.
Belgium’s National Council for Animal Protection (CNPA) did, however, tell The Brussels Times that pets pose no known threat to human owners.
“Animals are not vectors of the epidemic, so there is no reason to abandon your animal,” the agency said.
They nevertheless advised owners “not rub their nose against their pets.”
These assertions are backed up by the World Health Organisation, which insists there is “no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19” to human owners.