After news broke that a Bronx Zoo tiger tested positive for the new coronavirus, articles have been appearing pointing out that, yes, cats can apparently contract the virus that causes COVID-19. So, should you be worried? Not necessarily, but the British Veterinary Association is recommending people keep their pets indoors to reduce the risk of spreading the virus, the BBC reports; the virus could potentially be carried on animal fur and tracked around outside. Beyond that, the science is a bit murky—Scientific American reports that cats are believed to be able to contract the virus from humans, and then pass it to other cats. But while at least one study implied dogs don't seem to contract the virus, Time notes there has been at least one case in which a dog apparently did get it from its owner.
One thing is clear: "There isn't a single case of a pet dog or cat infecting a human with COVID-19," an expert tells the BBC. Indeed, the CDC says there's no evidence a cat could give a human the coronavirus. But so much is still unknown about the virus, SA points out that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence," meaning you should probably still take what the BVA refers to as "sensible precautions," including wearing gloves and a mask while changing litterboxes and, yes, keeping your cats indoors. The BVA also has these recommendations, which affectionate pet owners may find hard to follow: "Avoid unnecessary contact with your pets, such a hugging or allowing them to lick your face, and do not touch other people's dogs when on walks." (Read more coronavirus stories.)