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Rabies in Cats

Wondering whether getting your cat vaccinated against rabies is worth the hassle? The fact is that in most US states 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 Clackamas vets explain. 

Rabies & Your Cat's Health

Through direct contact with saliva from an infected animal, the rabies virus, which is a fatal disease that affects the brain, can be transmitted to humans. Rabies is a disease that affects mammals, including humans, animals, and domesticated animals.

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention receives reports of approximately 5,000 cases of rabies in animals, the vast majority of which are cases that occur in wild animals. Bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes are the types of animals that are most likely to be carriers of the rabies infectious disease.

Vaccination rates in cats are believed to be lower than those in dogs, which may be the reason why cats are more likely to contract rabies than dogs.

Almost all cases of rabies result in death. Typically, the animal will pass away within a few days of the first signs of rabies appearing on its body.

Rabies Incubation Period & Spread

If your cat is infected with rabies, it will typically take between ten and fourteen days for your pet to begin exhibiting symptoms. Rabies can be contracted through the bite of an infected animal or through other means, such as coming into contact with the saliva of an infected animal. Having said that, the onset of symptoms may not occur for several months, depending on the manner in which your pet was exposed to the virus.

As soon as the virus is present in the saliva of your pet, it is possible for them to transmit the rabies virus to other animals as well as to humans. This takes place approximately ten days before the onset of symptoms.

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.

Due to the fact that rabies cannot be tested on animals, pet owners who find themselves in this predicament are compelled to make a choice between two alternatives: either they can put their adorable cat to sleep or they can place the animal in quarantine and wait for symptoms to manifest. Even if they do not exhibit any symptoms at the beginning of the quarantine period, it is highly unlikely that pets will survive.

Only the manifestation of symptoms or the examination of brain tissue after the animal has passed away can provide conclusive evidence that a diagnosis of rabies has been correctly made.

Symptoms of Rabies in Cats

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

  • 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
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of balance when walking
  • Falling
  • Partial or complete paralysis
  • Seizures

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

Numerous people who own cats are under the mistaken impression that they do not need to vaccinate their indoor cats against rabies. But cats that live inside also require protection!It is not uncommon for our smart feline companions to be able to sneak out of the house when we are not looking, putting them in danger of coming into contact with animals that are infected with the disease. Additionally, it is possible for rodents and bats to make their way inside, where they could pose a threat to your pet. It would be irresponsible of you to withhold vaccinations from your pet.

The Bottom Line

It is your responsibility as a pet owner to do everything in your power to ensure that your animal companion enjoys a long and healthy life. One of the most important aspects of fulfilling that role is ensuring that your pet receives vaccinations against diseases that can be avoided, such as rabies.

Have a conversation with your veterinarian if you are unsure about whether or not you should vaccinate your pet. Our team of veterinary professionals at Clackamas Pet Clinic is always happy to address any concerns you may have and answer any questions you may have. We are here to assist you in maintaining the happiness and health of your pet.

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 Clackamas vets today to book an appointment for your four-legged friend. 

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Clackamas Pet Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of your companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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