It is officially cold and flu season. But how many of us love to cuddle up to our furry companions when we are sick? This leaves us to ask the question, Can cats catch the flu?
The answer is YES, cats can catch the flu from humans. But let us not confuse this with feline calicivirus infections, humans however can not catch this virus that is transferred from cat to cat. This virus is completely different from the human flu.
Flu infections that are transferred from humans to cats are more common then some may realize. The bigger issue is that the flu virus can mutate into a more dangerous form as it is passed from humans to animals. The virus attaches to cells in the respiratory tract of felines similarly to how it does in humans.
The illness starts with a runny nose, slight sneezing/coughing and can run its course into more dangerous territory of a fever and complete respiratory misery. The flu is most contagious to your cat when you have a fever and are constantly in contact with your own respiratory fluids. Most cats get the flu from owners during this time because they can sense the need for comfort when we are sick and tend to get closer to us and our faces.
How do we prevent the transmission of our flu to our cats?
If you have a fever DO NOT snuggle or cuddle to close with your cat. This can be difficult but is extremely important while you have a fever.
Keep all soiled tissues away from your cat and try not to stuff them in your clothes or bed sheets. Keeping a empty tissue box to dispose of your dirty tissues in can help.
Before petting your cat disinfect your hands. The last thing you want to do is transmit any germs to your cats fur.
Disinfect common surfaces and water and food bowls everyday. I know this can be hard if you are sick but it is very important to help prevent the virus from spreading.
How to treat your cat if it becomes infected?
Keep your cat hydrated and warm.
If your cat is not eating or drinking, notify your veterinarian.
If your cat seems to becoming very ill you will need to notify your veterinarian and your cat may be put on antiviral medications.
When contacting your veterinarian make sure you notify them that your cat may have contracted the flu from you. This may effect the treatment the veterinarian decides to use.
Do not be surprised if your veterinarian decides to quarantine your cat. If your veterinarian feels your cat is sick enough and needs to be away from humans and other animals during treatment please take the advice seriously for not only your cat but your health as well.
Always remember choosing a veterinarian that you can trust is very important. If at anytime you are questioning your veterinarian's suggestions you can always ask for a second opinion or choose to change veterinarians. Not all veterinarians are created equal and you should never fear taking your cat to a trusted veterinarian.
Photo features Maahes of IHOC sleeping off his illness.
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