Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Journal of Comparative Pathology 205 (2023) 17e23.


Open access.


The Eurasian strain of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 is a devastating pathogen for birds that also has the capacity to infect mammals. This report describes the presentation, clinical case findings (including haemogram and serum biochemistry), gross and microscopic lesions and virus detection in three HPAI H5N1-infected domestic cats from the USA in 2023. All three cats presented with neurological abnormalities and were euthanized due to a poor prognosis within 2 days (two cats) or 10 days (one cat) of known clinical disease onset. Necropsy consistently revealed pulmonary congestion and oedema, and cerebrocortical malacia with haemorrhage was also seen in the cat that survived for 10 days. On histology, all cats had necrotizing encephalitis and interstitial pneumonia with pulmonary congestion, oedema, vasculitis and vascular thrombosis. One cat also had microscopic multifocal necrosis in the liver, pancreas and an adrenal gland. To our knowledge, this report is the first to detail pathological findings in HPAI H5N1 naturally-infected cats during the widespread outbreak in North America beginning in 2021, and that describes a cat surviving for 10 days after onset of HPAI H5N1 encephalitis.