While cats are cuddling pets, they could be potentially harboring a deadly form of bovine tuberculosis which could be passed on to their owners.
Researchers at Edinburgh University found that cats often pick up the disease when they come in contact with infected rodents, consume contaminated milk or when exploring countryside badger setts.
The researchers said that one in every 1,000 cats may have been infected with mycobacteria responsible for the disease. With Britain doing away with routine vaccination programs against TB, there is a danger that the infection could be easily passed on from cats to humans.
"The potential incidence of feline mycobacteriosis is higher than previously thought. My biggest concern is this is spilling over from cattle and badgers into cats, and poses a risk to cats. We are seeing about one per cent of samples sent to labs infected with mycobacterium, which is scary. That is why we are keen to raise awareness so vets can look out for it", lead researcher Professor Danielle Gunn-Moore said.