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Rabies in Cats

Rabies in Cats

You might be wondering if getting your cat vaccinated against rabies is worth the hassle, especially if its an indoor cat. In this post, our Lincoln vets discuss the symptoms and prevention of rabies in cats.

Rabies & Your Cat's Health

Rabies is a lethal virus that targets the brain and spreads through contact with saliva from an infected animal. It poses a risk to various mammals, including pets, livestock, wildlife, and humans.

Each year, around 5,000 cases of rabies in animals are reported to the CDC, with the majority occurring in wild animals. Bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes are among the animals most likely to carry the rabies virus.

Cats have a higher susceptibility to rabies compared to dogs, primarily due to lower vaccination rates in feline populations.

It's important to note that rabies is almost always fatal. Once symptoms of rabies become evident, the affected animal typically succumbs to the disease within a few days.

Rabies Incubation Period & Spread

If your cat contracts rabies through the bite of an infected animal or by otherwise coming in contact with the saliva of an infected animal it will typically take 10 - 14 days for your pet to begin showing symptoms. That said, depending on how your pet was exposed to the virus it can take months for symptoms to appear.

Your pet can pass on the rabies virus to other animals and humans as soon as the virus is present in their saliva. This occurs about 10 days before symptoms appear.

There Is No Test For Rabies

If your cat is not vaccinated against rabies and comes in contact with an infected animal you will have to make some very difficult decisions.

Because you cannot test an animal for rabies, pet parents in this position are forced to choose between two options - to euthanize their sweet cat or to quarantine the pet and wait for symptoms to appear. Pets that are quarantined are unlikely to survive even if they do not show symptoms initially.

A rabies diagnosis can only be confirmed by the appearance of symptoms, or through the testing of brain tissue following the animal's death.

Symptoms of Rabies in Cats

Cats with rabies may show a variety of signs and symptoms, including:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of balance when walking
  • Falling
  • Partial or complete paralysis
  • SeizuresExcessive drooling
  • Uncharacteristic fearfulness, aggression, or even affection
  • Barking or meowing differently
  • Biting at the site where they were exposed to the virus
  • Overreaction to light, sound, or touch
  • Uncharacteristic aggression

There Is No Treatment For Rabies

Once your pet has been infected with rabies there is nothing your vet can offer you to treat the disease. Euthanasia and quarantine are the only options.

This is why prevention is so very important.

The Importance of The Rabies Vaccine for All Pets

While state vaccination requirements vary, keeping your pet's rabies vaccine up-to-date protects both your pets and the human members of your family against this deadly neurological disease.

Indoor Cats & The Rabies Vaccine

It is a common misconception among cat owners that indoor cats are not susceptible to rabies and therefore do not require vaccination. However, it is important to recognize that indoor cats also need protection. Despite our best efforts, cats can sometimes find a way to slip outside, putting them at risk of encountering infected animals.

Additionally, bats and rodents can find their way indoors, posing a potential threat to your pet's safety. Neglecting to vaccinate your pet against rabies would be taking an unnecessary and avoidable risk.

The Bottom Line

As a pet parent, it is up to you to do all you can to help your pet live a long and healthy life. Keeping your pet vaccinated against preventable diseases such as rabies is an essential part of fulfilling that role.

If you are unsure about whether to get your pet vaccinated, speak to your vet. At Critter Creek Veterinary Hospital our veterinary professionals are always happy to address any concerns you may have and answer your questions. We are here to help you keep your pet happy and healthy.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is it time for your pet's rabies vaccine? Contact our Lincoln vets today to book an appointment for your feline companion today.

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Critter Creek Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of pets in Lincoln and the Greater Sacramento Area. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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