Cat owners are at an increased risk of having the potentially lethal superbug MRSA in their homes, says a new study.
Scientists believe that pet dogs, birds, rabbits and horses can carry the disease which is "flipping" between humans and their animals, reports The Telegraph.
Researchers at the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community at Simmons College in Boston studied homes and found MRSA in nearly half of the 35 residences they sampled, mostly on wet surfaces like baths, sinks and tap handles.
The study concluded: "The presence of a cat in the home was found to be a strong predictor for the isolation of MRSA."
Dr Elizabeth Scott, who led the study, told the New York Times: "There are a number of papers coming out now showing that pets pick up MRSA from us and that they shed it back into the environment again."
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) becomes dangerous when it enters the body, particularly in anyone who is vulnerable, such as the elderly, newborn babies and those recovering from surgery.
If a wound becomes infected, the bacteria can spread throughout the body and cause potentially fatal blood poisoning.