Health officials in the United States on Tuesday urged pet owners to take precaution and treat their pets like "family members," including applying social distancing rules in order to avoid them contracting coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the statement after two cats from New York tested positive for COVID-19 last week, becoming the first pets in the U.S. to be infected with the pathogen.
The cats, from separate areas of New York state, had mild respiratory illness and were expected to make a full recovery. It is believed that they contracted the virus from people in their households or neighborhoods.
According to the CDC, owners must follow four recommendations in an effort to keep their pets out of harm's way since COVID-19 testing for animals is a very invasive procedure and should not be conducted on a regular basis.
The recommendations include not letting pets interact with people outside their respective households, keeping them indoors, maintaining social distancing while going on walks and avoiding dog parks or public places.
In addition, four more tigers and three lions tested positive for coronavirus at New York's Bronx Zoo, bringing the zoo's total to eight. The zoo reported its first case of COVID-19 on April 15 when a tiger named Nadia tested positive for the pathogen.
Reuters contributed to this report