Cats can catch H1N1

by Larry Lemmons
NewsChannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - The H1N1 virus has delivered a shock to pet owners.

Most people probably assume that the flu virus doesn't spread across species lines, except, of course, in this case, pigs and birds. Now comes word from Iowa that, indeed, a sick and contagious family gave the virus to their cat.

Veterinarians say the cat tested positive for the virus showing that human transmission of the bug to a pet is possible. Two ferrets also tested positive for the virus. To date, no dogs have tested positive.

Dr. Merten Pearson of Noah's Ark Pet Hospital says, "We're not seeing that in Amarillo and as far as I've heard across the nation we have not seen H1N1 get out of people into dogs yet. Right now still looking pretty good. This cat kind of threw us a little bit of a loop."

So, added to the regular cautions you take to prevent the flu spreading, you might also consider your pets.

Pearson says, "If you think you may have the flu, probably not a good idea to either sleep with your pet or snuggle with your pet a lot, because that presents an opportunity to transfer that virus into your pet and then pick up the H1N1 virus or seasonal flu."

At this time there is not an H1N1 vaccine that has been approved for pets. Local vets say they and the CDC continue to monitor the situation.

By the way, the cat has recovered.