Researchers in China have published a study online showing that domestic cats can be experimentally infected with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Cats given a high dose of the virus were also able to infect cats housed in adjacent cages, suggesting aerosol spread. Whether cats can serve as a reservoir host of the virus or transmit it to people has not been determined, but the risk of cats as a source of infection appears to be low. The researchers also attempted infection in ferrets, dogs, pigs, chickens, and ducks. The virus replicated poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens, and ducks, but efficiently in ferrets and cats.
In related news, a domestic cat in Belgium and a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York exhibited signs of respiratory disease and tested positive for the coronavirus.
More details of the experimental infection of cats with the novel coronavirus can be read in the Guardian. The original study is available at biorxiv.org.