Picture of pet cats and owners wearing face masks during 1918 Spanish flu pandemic

What goes around comes around. The arguments currently raging about whether it is wise to wear face masks during the current Covid-19 pandemic were the same a little over 100 years ago in America. During the Spanish flue pandemic of 1918-1919, some cities on the West coast made wearing masks obligatory. And some cat owners put them on their cats as the picture shows. I remember a Chinese woman in China doing the same thing and it was considered funny. I have to say that it must be impractical. How do long do the masks stay on cats?

Americans and cats wearing face masks during Spanish flu pandemic 1918
Tommy the cat is on the left, and Golly on the right. The photo is courtsey Dan Eskenazi.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The Spanish flue pandemic killed at least 50m worldwide and 675,000 in America. It was caused by an H1N1 virus originating in birds, apparently. Control of the virus was limited to social distancing, isolation, limitations to public gatherings and disinfectants. A bit like today but we have better medicine including testing and hopefully a vaccine in the not too distant future.

The picture caught my eye because in the UK the advice so far has been that wearing masks are not useful enough to bother which is in stark contrast to countries in Asia.

The UK government will probably change its mind soon as it decides to ease back on the nationwide lockdown at which time wearing masks will become more important as people are more likely to breach social distancing rules.


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