"The bird flu virus that can kill humans has the potential to be spread by cats, scientists have found.
"It had been thought that domestic cats were resistant to diseases caused by influenza A viruses - one of which, H5N1, is responsible for avian flu.
"The disease killed at least 20 people in Asia earlier this year, and forced farmers to cull almost 200m birds.
"The research, by Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, is published in the journal Science ...
"Professor John Oxford, an expert in virology at Queen Mary College, London, told BBC News Online the study was 'very significant and slightly alarming'.
"He said there was little evidence at present that cats could be infected with other forms of human flu virus, and so the possibility that H5N1 could mix with a human virus inside a cat and produce a deadly new strain was probably slim." [My emphasis - N]