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Swine Flu and Your Pets

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Swine Flu and Your Pets

It's a novel influenza virus, and one novel thing we've now learned about it is that H1N1 can also infect your cat.

In early October, I contracted a sickness that was likely swine flu. Day two of my illness featured fear - I obsessed over who I had been in contact with and, therefore, whom I might have infected. I was particularly concerned about my new granddaughter, but it seemed that every person I thought of was someone I worried about.

On the evening of day three, still running fever, my cat Little Man curled up against my legs - cats love a warm object, you know. And soon enough, I was obsessing about him. Could I give the swine flu to my cats?

Day four, still concerned, I searched the Internet for an answer and got the reassuring response that no, cats and dogs did not appear to contract the H1N1 virus, though they can catch other influenza viruses. I was relieved. I learned that pet ferrets could catch it, however; ferrets, after all, are often used as test animals for influenza, and I warned my daughter accordingly to keep an eye on her ferrets if anyone in her house appeared to get the flu.

Three weeks later we learn that cats can, indeed, catch H1N1 from their infected owners, thanks to a "large-framed but not chubby" 16-pound tabby cat in Ames, Iowa, who tested positive for H1N1(A) infection which, as an always-indoor cat, he apparently caught from his human owners.

For the complete story, read "The Cat Who Got Swine Flu" from the 5 November issue of the New York Times.

You can read what ProMed Mail (the program for monitoring infectious diseases) has to say here.


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Landon Otis

Tagged as:

health, pets, H1N1, swine flu, cats

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