Scientists have figured out the SARS-CoV-2 virus attaches to a receptor protein called ACE2 that's on the outside of respiratory cells, Live Science reported. Once inside of these cells, "the virus hijacks certain machinery so it can replicate."
"The feline ACE2 protein resembles the human ACE2 homologue, which is most likely the cellular receptor which is being used by Sars-CoV-2 for cell entry," Van Gucht said.
» Coronavirus in Georgia: stats in real time
» Study suggests tears don't spread virus
Jane Sykes, chief veterinary medical officer at the University of California, Davis, told HuffPost that cats and dogs might be "dead-end" hosts for the virus, meaning they could become infected but are not likely to transmit it to humans or other animals.
“You’re more likely to get infected from another person,” Sykes told HuffPost.
Last month, a dog in Hong Kong tested “weakly positive” for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
"The dog has a low-level of infection and it is likely to be a case of human-to-animal transmission," Hong Kong's Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department wrote in a fact sheet.
» Complete coverage: Coronavirus
Veterinarians and WHO said the virus might have been in the dog’s nose, but that doesn’t mean the dog had the coronavirus. The dog belonged to a coronavirus patient.
There have been no cases in the United States of animals contracting the illness.
"While this virus seems to have emerged from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person in China," the CDC said last month. "There is no reason to think that any animals including pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus. … However, since animals can spread other diseases to people, it's always a good idea to wash your hands after being around animals."
» Map tracks spread of coronavirus in real time