A cat that has fallen asleep in a park, or wandered into a hotel room with a person or dog has killed two people, according to a new study.
The cats in question, which are the same size and color as a Labrador Retriever, are also the size of a house cat, the University of California, Berkeley, reported Thursday.
The study, titled “Treatment of an unusual pet in the public parks,” was conducted by researchers at the university’s Veterinary Center.
It was published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Cats that have fallen asleep at the park, in hotels or on the subway, or are in the way of a person are at risk for infection, the study said.
“These are situations where cats might be inadvertently or deliberately injured by a pet,” said study lead author Dr. Lisa Geller, a veterinarian in the Veterinary Center’s Laboratory of Animal Behavior and Comparative Medicine.
“It’s a serious problem and a real risk.”
Researchers found that one person and their dog in the study had died after being bitten by the cats, the most common form of accidental pet injury in parks.
“It’s possible the two deaths could have been caused by the same individual who was bitten by one of the cats,” Geller said.
“We have no idea how many cats there are in parks around the country, but it seems likely.”
In most cases, a cat is not injured by the person who bites it.
But if a cat enters a hotel, is in the house, or is in an enclosed area, that person or pet is at risk, the researchers said.
They said there are some ways to prevent accidental pet bites, including not bringing a pet into the park or hotel, washing hands before entering a room, and putting your pet in a crate or crate extender.
“The first and most important step is to get the pet out of the park,” Geller said.
If a cat falls asleep or is walking in the wrong place, people can help to prevent the cats from getting into an enclosed space, the authors wrote.
If a cat wanders into a room and is not wearing a collar, the owners should place the cat in a container with a towel or blanket.
They can then leave it in the room.
Catherine Kucera, an author of the study, said she was not surprised to see that there was no known association between the two cats’ deaths.
“We don’t see cats that wander into the parks with people as a risk factor,” she said.
Kucera said cats have been a problem in parks for decades.
In 2015, for example, a kitten died after walking into a crowded movie theater, Kucer said, and in 2011, a 3-year-old dog died from an accidental fall into a park.
Kuger said she thinks the cats in the new study have been domesticated.
“There is a lot of speculation as to whether this is a domesticated behavior or not,” she told CNN affiliate KTVU.
“But if you go into the wilds of North America, there are lots of domesticated cats.”
The new study does not show whether the cats are more likely to fall asleep or become aggressive if people approach them.
The researchers wrote that they hope the findings will help to protect people from the cat-inflicted wounds and deaths that occur in parks and other outdoor settings.
The American Veterinary Medical Association has urged veterinarians to get involved in cat-related research.
The association is working with veterinarians on the study.