Two pet cats in New York have tested positive for coronavirus, becoming the first domesticated animals in the US reported to have the virus.

The felines, which are based in separate parts of the state, both had mild respiratory symptoms but are expected to recover.

Officials at the US Department of Agriculture said the cats might have contracted the disease from people in their households or neighbourhoods.

In one case, the cat’s owner tested positive to COVID-19 before the cat showed symptoms. In the second case, no individuals in the household were confirmed to have the infection, a spokesperson for the USDA said.

“The virus may have been transmitted to this cat by mildly ill or asymptomatic household members or through contact with an infected person outside its home.”

Earlier this month, several lions and tigers at the Bronx Zoo were found to have contracted the virus.

Two dogs and one cat also tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong.

Dr Casey Barton Behravesh, an official at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there was no evidence yet that pets could spread the virus to humans. “We don’t want people to be afraid of pets,” she told the Associated Press.

Dr Julia Crawford, president of the Australian Veterinary Association, said people with COVID-19 should minimise contact with their pets.

“If you are sick, treat your pet as you would another member of the household,” she told the ABC.

“Do not kiss, stroke or sneeze on them. Get somebody else to look after them and keep washing your hands.”

This article originally appeared on Over60.