A pet cat has been infected with coronavirus in the first known case of its kind in the UK.
The Covid-19 virus was detected in the animal last Wednesday following tests by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) in Weybridge, Surrey.
The cat and its owners – who live in England but are being kept anonymous – have made a full recovery.
It is the first confirmed case of an animal infection with the coronavirus strain in the UK, after a small number of others in Europe, North America and Asia.
The government said there was no evidence to suggest the animal transmitted the disease to its owners.
Instead a government spokesman said: “All available evidence suggests that the cat contracted the coronavirus from its owners who had previously tested positive for COVID-19.
“The cat and its owners have since made a full recovery and there was no transmission to other animals or people in the household.”
A private vet initially diagnosed the cat with the feline herpes virus after its owners noticed it was poorly.
However, the sample was then tested for SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes Covid-19 – as part of a research programme.
Follow-up samples confirmed the cat was also co-infected with SARS-CoV2.
Downing Street said the cat had “nasal discharge and some shortness of breath” that prompted its owners to go to the vet.
The cat was in England but no more details have been revealed.
No10 said the case followed animal infections in nations including France, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Germany, Denmark, the US, China, and Hong Kong.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There is no evidence that pets or other domestic animals directly transmit the virus to people.
“All of the available evidence in this case suggests the cat contracted this from its owners, who had themselves previously tested positive for Covid-19.”
He added: “If your pet is unwell, you should keep it indoors until such time as it’s recovered. If you’re sufficiently concerned you can of course take your pet to the vet.”
Chief Veterinary Officer Christine Middlemiss said: “This is a very rare event with infected animals detected to date only showing mild clinical signs and recovering within in a few days.
“There is no evidence to suggest that pets directly transmit the virus to humans.
“We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will update our guidance to pet owners should the situation change.”
Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said: “This is the first case of a domestic cat testing positive for COVID-19 in the UK but should not be a cause for alarm.
“The investigation into this case suggest that the infection was spread from humans to animal, and not the other way round.
“At this time, there is no evidence that pets can transmit the disease to humans.
“In line with the general advice on fighting coronavirus, you should wash your hands regularly, including before and after contact with animals.”