Worried cat owners have been reassured by the British Veterinary Association (BVA) that their pets can still leave the house during lockdown.
The BVA has clarified its advice on looking after cats during the coronavirus pandemic after its website crashed due to high volumes of traffic following reports suggesting all cats should be kept inside.
A BVA spokesman said the association had responded to questions from the BBC about advice for pet owners and gave both general advice and specific guidance for infected households, but had not made the distinction clear.
Association president Daniella Dos Santos said only cats from infected or self-isolating households should be kept inside - and only if they are happy to stay indoors.
Pet owners are advised to practise good hand hygiene as the virus could be carried on animals' fur, but they are urged not to panic about their animals.
Experts have said there is no evidence cats can transmit the virus.
Professor Ken Smith, professor of companion animal pathology at the Royal Veterinary College, said: "The key messaging for cat owners, and others responsible for the health and welfare of animals under their care concerned to avoid spread of infection from humans to animals is that contact between infected people and other animals should be minimised.
"Specifically, basic hygiene measures should always be implemented. This includes hand washing before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies, as well as avoiding kissing, licking or sharing food.
"In the context of pet cats, if cats are present within a Covid-19 positive household, they should be kept indoors."