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Rabies in Cats

Wondering why you should vaccinate your cat against rabies? While this vaccine could potentially save your pets life, many state laws also legislate rabies vaccinations for cats and dogs. Our Mandeville vets share some insights on this topic today.

Rabies & Your Cat's Health

The rabies virus is a lethal pathogen that impacts the feline nervous system, including the brain and spinal cord. It can also affect a variety of other animals, including wildlife, livestock, and humans. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports approximately 5,000 cases of rabies in animals annually, with most happening in wild animals. Raccoons, bats, foxes, and skunks are among the animals most likely to carry the rabies virus. 

While rabies in cats is still rare, cats now face a higher risk of contracting rabies than dogs due to lower vaccination rates in cats. 

While the typical incubation period is roughly three to six weeks, in reality it can range anywhere from 10 days to one year. 

Once the disease has manifested, rabies is nearly always fatal. the affected animal typically succumbs within a few days of when they begin to display symptoms of rabies. 

How does rabies spread?

Rabies spreads through infected mammals' saliva, and is primarily transmitted through bites. Contact with open wounds or mucous membranes, like the gums, can also result in transmission. The more your cat interacts with wild animals, the higher the risk of infection. 

Even if you have an indoor cat, they are still at risk for rabies because infected animals such as mice can enter your home or property and spread the virus to your cat. 

If your cat carries the rabies virus, it can pass it on to you and other humans or pets in your home. Rabies can be contracted if the infected animal's saliva (in this case, your cat's) comes into contact with mucous membranes or broken skin. Infection through scratches is possible, but rarely occurs.

If you suspect your cat has been exposed to the rabies virus, it's critical to contact your doctor right away to schedule an appointment for your cat to receive the rabies vaccine to prevent the disease from progressing. This can prevent her from contracting rabies if the vaccination is administered immediately after your cat is bitten. 

There is No Test for Rabies 

If your cat hasn't been vaccinated for rabies and encounters an infected animal, you'll face a number of tough decisions. You'll need to choose between euthanizing your beloved cat or quarantining them, and hoping symptoms don't develop. 

Even if your pet doesn't show symptoms initially, it is unlikely they will survive quarantine. Rabies can only be confirmed through testing of brain tissue after the animal's death. 

Symptoms of Rabies in Cats 

Cats with rabies may exhibit a variety of symptoms, including: 

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

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 essential.

The Importance of The Rabies Vaccine for All Pets

Ensure the protection of your pets and family members by keeping your pet's rabies vaccine up-to-date, as vaccination requirements may vary by state. This precaution guards against the deadly neurological disease.

Indoor Cats & The Rabies Vaccine

Many cat owners mistakenly assume indoor cats don't require rabies vaccination. However, indoor cats also need protection. Our clever feline friends can slip away unnoticed, putting them at risk of encountering infected animals. Also, bats and rodents may enter homes, threatening your pet. Neglecting vaccination for your pet is a risk that cannot be overlooked.

The Bottom Line

As a pet parent, take proactive steps to ensure your pet's long and healthy life. Make a crucial contribution by keeping your pet vaccinated against preventable diseases like rabies.

If you're uncertain about vaccinating your pet, consult your vet. Our veterinary professionals at Riverside Veterinary Hospital eagerly address your concerns and answer questions. We're dedicated to assisting you in maintaining your pet's happiness and well-being.

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 cat to come in for their rabies vaccination? Contact our Mandeville vets today to book an appointment and protect your cat against this virus. 

New Patients Welcome

At Riverside Veterinary Hospital, we are always accepting new patients. Our veterinary team is passionate about the health and well-being of companion animals in Mandeville. Book your first appointment today.

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