Cats and bird flu, currently low risk


TCS Member
Thread starter
Top Cat
Jul 28, 2018
Bird flu in the U.S. has jumped to dozens of species, infecting mammals in at least 31 states per this article, however, I couldn't find a list of all 31 states. The cattle states seem to be the focus. It is believed that pasteurization makes dairy products safe. How Pasteurization Kills Bird Flu Virus in Milk | Think Global Health

Researchers at Cornell University believe the affected Texas dairy cows were infected via water and food sources contaminated by wild birds migrating through the area. It was then likely spread between cows in close quarters.

I take this to mean that any animal or bird drinking contaminated water could be infected. I have no idea about reptiles since the rules are somewhat different for them. Anyone?

Some cats affected. 21 domestic cats in nine states have caught the virus since March 1, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cats that have tested positive include feral, barn cats and household pets.

CDC says it’s unlikely that people can catch it from cats.

If you suspect people or animals in your home have been around a sick or dead bird, you should monitor them closely for these signs:
  • Fever or feeling feverish/chills
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty breathing/shortness of breath
  • Conjunctivitis (eye tearing, redness, irritation, or discharge from eye)
  • Headaches
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Diarrhea
Bird flu outbreak spreads to mammals in 31 states. At least 21 cats infected. What to know (

Where is Bird Flu Spreading in the US? (

The following two paragraphs are my take from the article. Cats catch it from birds. In my opinion this means the cats who are most likely to catch it are unskilled kittens or too ill themselves to take any but the ill or dead birds. It seems to spread by animals eating the ill or dead birds. Yes, cows will eat anything they find.

It is suggested that people avoid dead birds, which means no helping ill birds and leaving the dead to be found by animals who will then be exposed to the illness. No suggestions were given in the article for what to do with dead birds you find.
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Every Life Should Have Nine Cats
Staff Member
Aug 13, 2009
This is just another reason why cats should be kept inside, or outside with supervision (like on a leash where they can't chase after birds), or in a catio. I know this isn't always feasible, as with a colony of cats, but it would at least help with "pet" cats to keep them a tiny bit safer.

Whenever we find a dead bird, we put on a pair of latex gloves and pick it up, put it in a bag, tie that up and put it in the trash. Of course, any scavengers at the dump can always get into it, but it's the best we can do to try to protect any outside cats that come along. We took down out bird feeders a few years ago when advised to do so because the feeders helped to spread this around, they thought. I miss having them, as do the cats, but don't want to contribute to this disease.