Wondering whether getting your cat vaccinated against rabies is worth the hassle? Pets must be kept up-to-date on their rabies shots, but equally important is the fact that one day that vaccine could save your pet's life. Our Cleveland vets explain.
Rabies & Your Cat's Health
Rabies is a dangerous virus that affects the brain and spreads through saliva from an infected animal. It can harm pets, livestock, wildlife, and even humans.
The CDC receives about 5,000 reports of rabies cases in animals each year, and most of them involve wild animals. Bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes are the animals most likely to carry the rabies virus.
Cats have a higher chance of getting rabies compared to dogs, possibly because fewer cats receive vaccinations.
Rabies is almost always deadly. When symptoms of rabies show up, the animal usually passes away 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 hasn't been vaccinated for rabies and it comes into contact with an infected animal, you'll face some tough choices.
Since there's no way to test animals for rabies, pet owners in this situation have to decide between two options: euthanizing their beloved cat or isolating the pet and waiting for symptoms to show up. Even if pets are kept in quarantine without symptoms initially, their chances of survival are low.
A confirmed rabies diagnosis can only be made when symptoms appear or through testing the animal's brain tissue after its passing.
Symptoms of Rabies in Cats
Cats with rabies may show a variety of signs and symptoms, including:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of balance when walking
- Partial or complete paralysis
- Excessive 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
Some cat owners wrongly think that indoor cats don't require rabies vaccinations. However, indoor cats also need protection! Our clever feline companions can sometimes escape when we're not looking, putting them at risk of encountering infected animals.
Additionally, bats and rodents can find their way indoors, posing a threat to your pet. It's just too risky to skip vaccinating your pet.
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 Mt. Yonah Animal 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.