The Cat Flu is a misleading term. There really isn't a specific cat flu or cat influenza virus. Instead the cat flu is more of a syndrome with a set of symptoms that are surprisingly similar to the human flu. There are a number of viruses that cause cat ailments that are very similar to influenza.
Causes of Cat Flu
There are two influenza viruses that can cause a disease in cats, the Swine Influenza virus and the Avian Influenza virus. Although it is possible for cats to get sick by these viruses, it is not a commonplace occurrence. In fact, it is quite rare. Some more common viruses that cause diseases that are called cat flu are feline herpes virus, feline calcivirus, Bordetella bronchiseptica and Chlamydophila felis.
Transmission of the Cat Flu
Each virus has its own way of being transmitted. Generally speaking, respiratory viruses are transmitted by secretions or droplets when the cat sneezes or coughs. Fomites or inanimate objects can become contaminated and transmit to other cats. Direct transmission between cats is also possible. Avian flu is transmitted when the cat consumes sick birds. There has been no recorded transmission of influenza from cats to humans.
Signs and Symptoms of Cat Flu
The symptoms of cat influenza is similar to the human flu. These symptoms include fever, listlessness, difficulty breathing, red and swollen eyes and even death. There are a lot of similar diseases. Ask the vet if your cat has any of these. Contact local veterinarians and animal hospital if your cat has respiratory distress.
Treatment for Cat Flu and Prevention
Talk to your local veterinarian about cat flu vaccinations. There are certain feline flu vaccinations for some of the causes of "cat flu" and your veterinarian or local animal hospital is the best place to get more information. You can also try online vet advice or to ask a vet for free online.
Don't feed cats raw or undercooked meat, especially chicken or other birds. Feeding commercial cat foods is a good idea because the high temperatures used to make it kills the virus. Keep cats indoors. This prevents contact with other cats and prevents the cat eating birds.
Cat flu remedies include antibiotic eye ointment, support with intravenous fluids, antiviral drugs, L-Lysine, and discharge removal. Help breathing by taking the cat into the bathroom while the shower is running. Try to keep your cat eating and drinking. Multivitamins, heating food, hand-feeding, and strong smelling foods like sardines are all techniques that can help keep cats eating. You can find multivitamins on amazon.com. Two examples are Dancing Paws Daily Multi Vitamin and Mineral For Cats -- 90 Capsules - $9.64 and Nutri-Cal for Cats High Calorie Dietary Supplement, 4.25-Ounce Tube- $8.32. Prices are subject to change.
Just to put minds at ease, there has been no documented case of humans getting the flu from their cat. Felinesare capable of contracting the flu, although cat flu is different from the human flu. Similar to human flu, though, you just have to wait out the cat flu and make the cat as comfortable as possible.