Your Cat Can Get the H1N1 Virus

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

Believe it or not, your cat can get the H1N1 Virus too and that presents a whole new set of problems for pet owners, who are trying to protect themselves.   Questions have surfaced, like how does it spread from human to animal and can it go back to humans?

According to Becky Battershell, with Angel Veterinary Clinic in Odessa, when it comes to taking care of your furry friends, it should be just like taking care of your own child, since there are more similarities than most people think, "As far as we know, it has something to do with the genetics of the cat, somewhat like a ferret, being closer to a human."

If your Fluffy, Tiger or Mittens isn't feeling well, don't immediately think you've given them swine flu.

"It's not very common at all, in fact, I think as veterinarians, we're not super concerned, in the United States, of diseases that cross species, in most domestic animals and humans," Battershell said. 
So far, there have been 2 confirmed of H1N1 cases in household pets in the country.   One in a cat in Iowa and a second in a ferret.

While your furry feline may catch the bug from you, you can breathe easy from that point on.  "If a cat does get H1N1, it should not be able to go back to a human.  It should be spread only from cat to cat."

Most cats live indoors and have a lot of close contact with their owners, increasing their exposure to diseases.  But how do you know if your cat is sick?  What are the symptoms? 

According to Battershell, "Same thing for us, kind of like the sneezing, high fever, dehydration, flu-type symptoms, just not feeling well, those sorts of things, maybe off their diet."

To stop the spread, vets recommend using common sense, "If you use those type of precautions, washing your hands, good sanitary conditions, covering your sneeze and the aerosol spray, things like that, I feel like you're going to be protecting your whole household, including the cat."

Other pets that are susceptible to the H1N1 virus are hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, and other so-called pocket pets.

There is no H1N1 vaccine for animals.  If your pet gets sick, your best bet is to ride it out with vet prescribed antibiotics.