Can Cats Get Canine Influenza? The Surprising Truth Revealed!

No, cats cannot contract canine influenza because it is specific to dogs. Canine influenza is a respiratory illness that affects dogs, but it does not affect cats.

Cats and dogs are two of the most popular pets, often living together in the same household. However, when it comes to certain illnesses, their vulnerability can differ. One such illness is canine influenza, a highly contagious respiratory infection that affects dogs.

But can cats also become infected with this virus? The short answer is no. Canine influenza specifically targets dogs, meaning cats cannot contract the virus. We will explore the reasons behind the resistance cats have to this particular illness and provide information on how to keep both cats and dogs safe from respiratory infections.

Understanding Canine Influenza And Its Contagion

Canine influenza, also known as dog flu, is a contagious respiratory disease caused by specific strains of influenza viruses. It primarily affects dogs but can also infect cats. There are two predominant strains of the virus: H3N8 and H3N2. While H3N8 is believed to have originated from an equine influenza virus, H3N2 is thought to have originated from avian influenza. Both strains can cause mild to severe respiratory illness in dogs and cats.

Canine influenza spreads through respiratory secretions from infected dogs and cats. It can be transmitted through direct contact with infected animals or by coming into contact with contaminated items such as bowls, toys, bedding, or clothing. The virus can also be airborne and spread through coughing or sneezing. It is important to note that the virus can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours, increasing the risk of transmission.

Yes, cats can get infected with canine influenza. While dogs are the primary hosts, cats can also contract the virus. However, the prevalence of infection in cats is relatively low compared to dogs. Cats may exhibit similar symptoms to dogs, including coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite.

The transmission of canine influenza to cats poses a risk of cross-species infection. While the virus may not adapt as efficiently to cats as it does to dogs, it can still cause illness in feline companions. Therefore, it is crucial to take appropriate precautions, such as limiting contact between infected dogs and cats and ensuring proper hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the virus.

The Similarities And Differences Between Canine And Feline Influenza

Canine influenza, commonly known as dog flu, and feline influenza, also called cat flu, are respiratory illnesses caused by different variants of influenza virus. While both viruses share similarities in symptoms, they also have key differences.

Comparison of symptoms in dogs and cats: Dog flu typically presents symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, nasal discharge, fever, and loss of appetite. Cats, on the other hand, may show similar symptoms but can also experience more severe signs, including oral ulcers, pneumonia, and eye lesions.

Variants of influenza virus affecting dogs and cats: Canine influenza is caused by the H3N8 and H3N2 viruses, whereas feline influenza is mainly caused by the Feline Calicivirus (FCV) and the Feline Herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1). These variants contribute to the varying symptoms observed in each species.

Can dogs transmit influenza to cats, and vice versa? While inter-species transmission of influenza can occur, it is rare. Dogs are more likely to contract the virus from other dogs, and cats from other cats. However, it is always advisable to keep them apart if either is infected to avoid possible cross-transmission.

Protecting Your Feline Friend From Canine Influenza

Vaccination options for cats: It is a common misconception that canine influenza only affects dogs. However, cats can also contract the virus, which is why it is important to consider vaccinating your feline friend. While there is currently no specific vaccine for cats against canine influenza, there are vaccines available that can help protect them from other respiratory diseases, which can reduce the severity and complications of the infection if they do contract it.

Importance of keeping cats away from infected dogs: Canine influenza is highly contagious and can spread easily from infected dogs to cats. Keeping your cat away from infected dogs can greatly reduce the risk of them contracting the virus. This means avoiding places where infected dogs may congregate, such as dog parks or kennels, and not allowing direct contact between your cat and any dogs displaying symptoms of respiratory illness.

Preventive measures for reducing feline exposure to influenza: In addition to vaccination and avoiding contact with infected dogs, there are other measures you can take to protect your cat from canine influenza. Regularly washing your hands and changing your clothes after visiting places with a high risk of exposure can help prevent the virus from coming into your home. Additionally, keeping your cat indoors can limit their exposure to infected animals and reduce the likelihood of them contracting the virus.


To conclude, it is important to understand that cats are unlikely to get canine influenza. While the virus primarily affects dogs, it is always best to ensure your feline companions are up-to-date on their vaccinations. By keeping an eye on their health and providing them with proper care, we can help our furry friends stay safe and healthy.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to protecting our pets from potential illnesses.

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Dr Harunur Rashid (Harun) is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine who has five years of experience in large pet animal medicine. He worked as a livestock officer for two years in an NGO, and since then he has been practicing pet animals medicine privately. He holds an MS in Pharmacology from Bangladesh Agricultural University and a DVM from the same institution.