Friday, March 03, 2006

 

Ornithophobia and Cat Care

A few weeks ago, I joked (I thought) with friends. My cats catch birds in the garden, and sometimes eat them: must I keep the cats indoors to avoid them catching bird flu? Ha ha!

Fat chance I'd try to keep them indoors! These two young males get stir-crazy very quickly, chase each other madly around the house, and miaou to "command" me to open a door or window to let them out. Cats may sleep a lot, but when they are awake they can be pretty manic, especially youngish males. Much to my surprise, one of them even likes to chase a Frisbee!

A dead cat found this week in RĂ¼gen, Germany had the deadlier Asiatic variety of H5N1 bird flu, apparently from eating a wild bird. The World Health Organization says
The current H5N1 panzootic in birds, which began in mid-2003 in parts of South-East Asia, has been accompanied by a few anecdotal reports of H5N1 infection in domestic cats. In all such reports, eating raw infected poultry was considered the most likely source of infection for the cats.
and then notes
In October 2004, captive tigers fed on fresh chicken carcasses began dying in large numbers at a zoo in Thailand. Altogether 147 tigers out of 441 died of infection or were euthanized. Subsequent investigation determined that at least some tiger-to-tiger transmission of the virus occurred.
Oh dear and crotte de bique!

The identified cases nearest to us are still over 450 km away: the region from Lyon to Geneva. The latest cases are a heron, a duck, and nine swans, for a cumulative total of twenty-nine.

Bourg-en-Bresse, where some of the most desirable chickens in France are raised outdoors, is twenty kilometers away from the nearest of the towns where the infected birds were found, whereas the primary surveillance zone is three kilometers, and secondary, ten. If Bourg-en-Bresse is spared, I'll suspect another miracle like the one that stopped the Chernobyl radiation cloud at the French border.

I guess we'll have to learn to get along, tomcats and I, and they'll have to use the litter box instead of soil (which tends to be frozen or snow-covered currently, anyway). How much is AUD 120 (plus shipping) in euros? Litter kwitter sells a training kit for that price to teach cats (any age) to use a toilet.


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