sneezing cats runny noses

H1N1 Virus (aka Swine Flu)
in Cats & Kittens?

Cats & the Swine Flu (H1N1 virus)

Dear Simba, I have heard about the swine flu / H1N1 virus. Can my cat Bimbo get it? Sandy

Hi Sandy - The ASPCA and the AVMA say there has been only one reported incident of the H1N1 virus affecting cats (Nov. 2009). This happened on 11/04/09, when the Iowa State Veterinarian and the Iowa Dept of Public Health announced that a pet cat was infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. The cat owners were ill first and passed along the swine flu to their cat. The cat recovered and there is no evidence at this time that the cat passed the virus to any people.

According to the AVMA there is no licensed and approved 2009 H1N1 vaccine for pets. In addition, the human H1N1 vaccine should not be used for pets as it is not certain to be safe or effective.

There's a strain of the flu virus called H5N1 (known as the bird flu or avian flu). This virus can affect cats. However, chances of your cat catching it are very low. During the last outbreak in 2003-4 a few there were some unofficial reports of domestic cats catching the virus. There was a cat in Germany that lived in an area where there were over 100 birds that were infected and died from the virus. The cat ate the carcass of a dead bird and may have caught the virus.

Generally, there are many more important things to worry about than having Bimbo catch the swine flu. Good care involves ensuring Bimbo gets regular checkups at the vet. Also be sure to follow the tips on to keep Bimbo healthy, happy and safe! Here are some quick tips if you want to be extra healthy as it relates to the avian flu:

  • Keep Bimbo indoors. Avoid exposure to infected birds (avian flu)

  • Do not allow stray cats in your home.

  • Feed Bimbo cooked poultry only (the virus is destroyed at high temps)

Hope this helps, Simba