(CNN) Cat owners who are self-isolating or have Covid-19 symptoms should consider keeping their pets indoors to stop them carrying the virus on their fur, a veterinary body has advised.
The British Veterinary Association said animals "can act as fomites" (objects that can become contaminated with infectious organisms) and could hold the virus on their fur if they are petted by someone who has contracted it.
"For pet owners who have Covid-19 or who are self-isolating we are recommending that you keep your cat indoors if possible, during that time," the BVA said in a statement. "The virus could be on their fur in the same way it is on other surfaces, such as tables and doorknobs."
The body said, however, that its main advice to pet owners was to practice good hand hygiene.
It stressed that it is not suggesting all cats should be kept indoors, and said owners should do so "only if the cat is happy to be kept indoors," acknowledging that "some cats cannot stay indoors due to stress-related medical reasons."
There has been a tiny handful of incidents in which animals have themselves tested positive for Covid-19, including a tiger in Bronx Zoo, but even in those cases there is no evidence that animals can pass the virus to humans.
"It is very important that people don't panic about their pets. There is no evidence that animals can pass the disease to humans," the BVA said. "From the small number of cases it appears that dogs do not show symptoms, but cats can ...