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avian influenza in cats

Unraveling the Impact of Avian Influenza in Cats: A Comprehensive Overview

Avian Influenza in Cats

avian influenza in catsCats infected with avian influenza, specifically the H5N1 subtype, can display severe symptoms that may lead to fatality. These cases are particularly notable as cats are one of the few species susceptible to avian influenza. The virus primarily affects the lungs and liver of infected cats.


The H5N1 virus has been identified in various regions, including China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Iraq, Austria, Germany, and Poland. It has been observed not only in domestic cats but also in wild cat species like the Asiatic golden cat, clouded leopard, tigers, and leopards. The initial discovery of H5N1 in cats occurred in 2003 in a Thai zoo, leading to subsequent outbreaks in different parts of the world.

Virus Transmission

Cats typically contract H5N1 by consuming infected birds. Once infected, a cat can transfer the virus to other cats through the respiratory and digestive tracts. However, there is limited evidence to suggest transmission between cats and dogs through shared food bowls. While the virus has not adapted to mammal-to-mammal transmission, concerns exist regarding its potential evolution.

Studies and Symptoms

Studies conducted on cats infected with H5N1 have focused on epidemiology and immune response. Epidemiological studies indicate a low prevalence of H5N1 in cat populations. Infected cats may exhibit symptoms such as fever, lethargy, and respiratory distress. Neurological symptoms, including circling or ataxia, have also been recorded in severe cases.

Treatment and Prevention

Vaccination has been identified as a preventive measure for H5N1 in cats, reducing the severity of symptoms. Cats exhibiting symptoms should be isolated and taken to a vet for testing. Handling infected cats requires precautions such as wearing gloves, masks, and goggles, with thorough disinfection of surfaces they come into contact with. Antiviral treatments, like Oseltamivir, have been explored, but further research is needed to establish their efficacy in feline cases.


  1. Philippa J, Baas C, Beyer W, et al. (May 2007). “Vaccination against highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus in zoos using an adjuvanted inactivated H5N2 vaccine”. Vaccine. 25 (19): 3800–8. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2007.01.121. PMID 17403559.
  2. Yee KS, Carpenter TE, Cardona CJ (July 2009). “Epidemiology of H5N1 avian influenza”. Comp. Immunol. Microbiol. Infect. Dis. 32 (4): 325–40. doi:10.1016/j.cimid.2008.01.005. PMID 18448168.
  3. Thiry, Etienne; Addie, Diane; Belák, Sándor; Boucraut-Baralon, Corine; Egberink, Herman; Frymus, Tadeusz; Gruffydd-Jones, Tim; Hartmann, Katrin; Hosie, Margaret J.; Lloret, Albert (1 July 2009). “H5N1 avian influenza in cats. ABCD guidelines on prevention and management“. Journal of Feline Medicine & Surgery. 11 (7): 615–618. doi:10.1016/j.jfms.2009.05.011. PMC 7128855. PMID 19481042.
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