Of all the topics and issues concerning cat health problems I’ll be the first to admit that I’m actually quite alarmed that I have to present information encouraging you to take precautions to reduce the risk of H1N1 infecting your cat however; there is evidence that cats can carry the H1N1 Swine flu virus.
In the first week of November, 2009 the Iowa Department of Public Health reported and confirmed that a 13-year-old domestic short-haired cat had been infected with Swine flu, and it’s believed to be the first case of the H1N1 virus in a feline, according to veterinary and federal officials.
The Iowa cat was taken to the veterinary college at Iowa State University, where tests of a nasal swab confirmed the cat was infected with the H1N1 virus. The family mentioned to the vet that they had also recently battled the illness, which led to testing the cat for H1N1.
The good news is both the cat and its owners have recovered from their illnesses.
Veterinary and federal officials all seem to agree that although it’s rare that cats get infected with any kind of flu virus, The Center for Disease Control and Prevention admits that they’ve known all along that it’s certainly a possibility and is not completely unexpected, as other strains of influenza have been found in cats in the past.
If a cat does get a human flu bug, symptoms to watch for include lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, sneezing and breathing with the mouth open.
Veterinary and federal officials are now urging pet owners to take the same precautions against spreading Swine flu to pets as they would with humans; so here are 5 tips to help reduce the risk of H1N1 infecting your cat:
1. Reduce contact with your cat if you are sick.
2. Avoid being around them when you are coughing or sneezing.
3. Get into the habit of washing your hands frequently.
4. It’s very important to avoid contact with their faces.
5. Make sure your veterinarian is aware if your cat is having any health problems whatsoever and especially if your cat gets sick after you’ve had H1N1, or any other infection.
While humans can pass the flu on to a cat, it’s highly unlikely that your cat could transmit it back to humans. If your cat is having health problems, particularly respiratory problems, consult a veterinarian.