The report was jointly published Friday by a research team of the Huazhong Agricultural University and another team led by Shi Zhengli from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
According to the report, 15 of serum samples of 102 cats collected after the outbreak showed positive in test for the novel coronavirus. Neutralizing antibodies for the coronavirus were also found in 11 of the 15 samples.
Three samples from cats whose owners are confirmed COVID-19 patients showed higher-tier neutralizing antibodies than others, indicating the cats may have gotten infected through close contact with human according to the report.
The Friday report followed a previous report of a research team from the Harbin Veterinary Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, which said that cats are more susceptible to COVID-19 and spread the virus more easily to other cats via respiratory droplets, while the virus replicates poorly in dogs, pigs, chickens, and ducks.
At least two cats have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 -one in Hong Kong, in addition to two dogs, and another cat in Belgium.
Recent studies and cases have raised concerns over whether the virus can pass between pets and people. Some netizens worry that these research may fuel irrational sentiments and lead to some pets being abandoned by their owners, calling for responsibility of pet keepers.
Some experts tried to ease the public concern, explaining that there is no need to panic over pets as long as the owners take proper disinfection measures.