With the recent outbreak of bird flu in Norfolk &
Suffolk (December 2007) in the UK, I thought I'd just write a
few lines about how it affects cats. I know that
there has been a lot of consternation among cat owners.
The risks of cats catching bird flu is very small. It
mainly happens when cats eat infected poultry. There have
been no recorded cases of cat to human infection and
limited evidence of cat to cat transmission.
There was a cat in Germany last year that died from bird flu
but was found to have eaten infected wild birds. As there
is no vaccine licensed to prevent bird flu in cats it is
sensible to use preventative measures.
1) don't feed uncooked poultry to cats. The H5N1
virus is destroyed at 70 degrees C. Because of this the
high temperature that commercial cat food is cooked at
eliminates the risk of infection.
2) keep cats indoors at dawn and dusk to prevent them
from catching and eating infected birds. Also, because
the virus can
potentially be spread from cat to cat, this measure prevents
exposure to potentially infected outdoor cats.
3) keep cats away from wild waterfoul and poultry.
4) safely dispose of any wild birds and poultry
carcasses that your cat may present to you. Use a sealed
bag in the household rubbish and wear rubber gloves.
5) usual hygiene practices should be observed when
handling cat or bird faeces.
I've read that there has been panic among some pet owners,
but there is no need to re-home your cats or have them
euthanased because of the fear of infection by bird flu.
There is also no need to keep them indoors all the time.
Meanwhile, any unusual deaths of waterfowl or waders should
be reported to the DEFRA Helpline on 08459 335577 (UK), the
Dept of Agriculture (US), the Public Health Agency
Thanks for reading!
Quotation of the Week: Cats do not have to be shown
how to have a good time, for they are unfailing ingenious in
that respect. - James Mason
This was originally a newsletter of the Healthy Cat Club