Anorak News | Sleeping With The Enemy

Sleeping With The Enemy

by | 1st, March 2006

‘IF there is one thing guaranteed to make Britain sit up and take the threat of bird flu seriously it is the news that the deadly virus has killed a domestic cat.

Underestimate the birds at your peril

“BIRD FLU KILLS CAT,” says the Mirror in the deepest black ink, and we fear for our pets.

News is that a cat has been found dead on the German island of Ruegen, a place the Mail describes as “flu-ravaged”. The cat is believed to have eaten an infected bird.

Maria Cheng, of the World Health Organisation, confirms that this is the first time a mammal in Europe has died of bird flu. “We don’t now what this means for humans,” she says.

Only we in Britain do know. First, the tragic news means you should cancel that weekend break to Ruegen, the largest German island, a place of “shining white chalk cliffs, kilometres long fine sandy beaches, calm expanses of beech woods” (source: German National Tourist Office).

The second thing to do is panic. As the Sun says, the death of this one cat is “sparking panic that pets could spread the dreaded virus”.

The third thing to do is reassess the enemy. This is the war with the birds, and cats were to play a big part fighting on the human side.

The domestic feline is a happy breed that considers a dead bird to be something a gift. Cats would surely be invaluable allies in the struggle. But now the Mail says there is a “theoretical” risk cat owners could catch bird flu from the pets. Tiddles has defected to the other side.

But before you have your pet stuffed and mounted, the Mail hears from Michael Schmidt, a virologist at Berlin’s Free University. Says he: “It is very rare for an infected animal to infect humans…Nevertheless it’s best if cat owners avoid taking their cats into their beds.”

Indeed. And while we’re on this difficult topic, we advise owners to avoid taking anyone else’s cat to bed, too. Such behaviour can only lead to problems.’

Posted: 1st, March 2006 | In: Tabloids Comment | TrackBack | Permalink