Feline H1N1 Takes a Deadly Turn

November 24, 2009

By Yul

H1N1 isn’t just a ferret-killer. Since I last reported on it, at least three more cats have caught it and one of them died.

Buddy Lou was a 10-year-old male cat who lived in Oregon. About a week after a child in his house had H1N1, Buddy developed a weird pneumonia (view x-rays) and tested positive for H1N1. Antibiotics and oxygen failed to help. Buddy deteriorated over 4 days at the vet’s and he died on November 7.

Buddy Lou (Photo - Chicago Now/Steve Dale)

Buddy lived with 3 other cats who started coughing and sneezing, but none tested positive and all recovered.

The following week, a cat in Utah got sick after its owner had H1N1. This cat was having trouble breathing, and an initial nasal swab was negative, but further testing confirmed it was H1N1. That cat recovered.

Nine ferrets in Oregon came down with H1N1 after humans in their household had it, but they all recovered.

AnnArbor.com reported that 2 cats, 13 and 14 years old, also contracted H1N1, but they both recovered. Since none of these cats were named, it’s impossible to tell if they were additional cases or not.

Humans take note: NO ONE has reported cats passing H1N1 to humans.

Cats have no vaccine for H1N1. Dogs so far are unaffected, but they have their own flu, H3N8, and they do have a vaccine for it. (It figures.)

People, watch your cats for lethargy, poor appetite, fever, runny nose and/or eyes, sneezing, coughing, or changes in breathing (including difficulty breathing). It could be H1N1 and the cat needs to see the vet STAT.

If you are sick, protect your cat as you would try to protect your kid. Don’t sneeze into your hand and then pet the cat. It can lick the virus off its fur. Cover your face when you sneeze or cough to keep the virus out of the cat’s air space. Don’t handle the cat or its belongings with germy hands.

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