Swine (H1N1) Flu Claims Its First Feline Victim

Published December 2009

In the article titled H1N1 (Swine) Flu Confirmed In Pet Cat it was reported that the first confirmed case of swine flu had been confirmed in a 13 year old cat in Des Moine, Iowa, USA.

Now a 10-year-old brown tabby cat named Buddy Lou from Lebanon, Oregon has died four days after he was brought into his veterinarian.

This is the first confirmed feline death from the H1N1 in the United States.

The cat's owner, Rhonda Rebmann, had a niece who had the flu. Not long after the niece became ill, Buddy Lou began showing symptoms of respiratory problems including, coughing and sneezing with very labored breathing.

When Rhonda took Buddy Lou into the Lebanon Animal Clinic, the staff veterinarians immediately were very concerned about the difficulty the cat was having breathing. Suspecting pneumonia, they performed chest X-rays.

The X-rays showed fluid build up in the bottom of the lungs that is typical of pneumonia, but the radiographs also revealed fluids accumulating higher up in the lungs. This is was very unusual.

Despite antibiotics or oxygen treatment, the cat failed to rally and died despite their best efforts. Tests confirmed he had the H1N1 virus. Other cats in the same household as Buddy Lou also developed signs of respiratory illness but all recovered.

A state public health veterinarian commented that it is very rare that a cat would catch a disease from a human and there is no need for cat owners to panic. It is recommended, however, that all pet owners routinely wash their hands before touching their cat or its food and water. 

No cases of dogs contracting H1N1 have been reported.

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