Rabies is a disease that is not only one of those most easily contracted but also one of the deadliest among animals in the United States. In this post, our Oceanside vets discuss the implications of rabies in cats, dogs and other animals and how vaccinations can help protect your cat.
What Exactly is Rabies in Cats?
Rabies is an extremely contagious virus that is thankfully preventable. This illness affects the central nervous system of mammals. The disease spreads through bites from infected animals and travels from the site of the bite along the nerves until it reaches the spinal cord, and works its way from there to the brain. As soon as the rabies virus reaches the brain, the infected animal will start to display symptoms and often dies within 7 days.
How Does Rabies Spread Between Animals?
In the U.S. wildlife, such as raccoons, bats, foxes, and skunks are the ones most responsible for spreading rabies— but this condition can be found in any mammal. Usually, rabies is found in areas that have high populations of unvaccinated feral cats and dogs.
Rabies spreads through the saliva of infected mammals and is most often transmitted through bites from infected animals. Rabies can also spread if the saliva of an infected animal comes in contact with an open wound or mucous membranes, such as the gums. The more contact your cat has with wild animals, the higher the risk of becoming infected.
What Are The Common symptoms of Rabies in Cats?
Generally, there are three recognizable stages of the rabies virus in cats, below we have listed the stages including the signs and symptoms that accompany each stage:
Prodromal stage - In this stage, a rabid cat will typically exhibit changes in their behavior that differs from their usual personality, if your kitty is usually shy, they could become more outgoing, and vice versa. If you see any behavioral abnormalities in your cat after they have obtained an unknown bite, keep them away from any other pets and family members, and call your vet immediately.
Furious stage - This stage is the most dangerous because it makes your pet nervous and even vicious. They might cry out excessively and experience seizures and stop eating. The virus has gotten to the stage where it has begun attacking the nervous system, and it prevents your cat from being able to swallow, leading to the classic symptom of excessive drooling, known as "foaming at the mouth."
Paralytic stage - This is the final stage in which a rabid cat will go into a coma, and won't be able to breathe. Unfortunately, this is the stage where pets usually pass away. This often takes place about seven days after symptoms first appear, with death usually happening after about 3 days.
What Are The Treatment Options for Rabies in Cats?
If your pet has had the kitten shots that protect them from rabies, including all required boosters, provide proof of vaccination to your veterinarian. If anyone came into contact with their saliva or was bitten by your pet (yourself included), advise them to contact a physician immediately for treatment. Unfortunately, rabies is always fatal for unvaccinated animals, usually occurring within 7 to 10 days from when the initial symptoms start.
Your pet should be humanely euthanized to ease their suffering and to protect the other people and pets in your home. If your cat dies suddenly of what you suspect to be rabies, your vet may recommend having a sample from the cat’s brain examined. Direct testing of the brain is the only way to diagnose rabies for sure.
The best protection against rabies in cats is to provide them with the appropriate vaccines through vaccination clinics in Oceanside that help prevent the disease. Talk to your vet about scheduling an appointment to make sure your pet is up to date with their rabies shots and other vaccinations.
Rabies Vaccinations For Cats
The Cost of The Cat Rabies Vaccine
The cost of cat and dog rabies vaccinations varies tremendously from city to city, state to state, and even from one vet to another in the same area. The type of rabies vaccine used is a key determiner of cost.
Longer-lasting vaccines, as well as vaccines with a smaller number of potential side effects, are typically much more expensive. Contact your vet to find out which rabies vaccine they use for cats and exactly how much your pet vaccinations in Oceanside will cost. Your vet can help guide you on what vaccination plan is right for your cat's health, as well as your own personal budget.
The Pet Vaccination Schedule For Rabies
The schedule for your cat's rabies vaccination will vary depending on the brand of vaccine used.
Kittens should begin their rabies vaccination treatment at about 12 weeks old. If you haven't already, you can schedule your cat for all their routine vaccinations and other preventative care at Surfside Animal Hospital.
Potential Reactions To The Cat Rabies Vaccination
Cat owners often have concerns about the possible side effects their cats could experience following their rabies vaccination. Pet Parents sometimes come to our Oceanside vets concerned about stories they have heard about "cats who have died from rabies vaccine". Fortunately, these fears are unfounded. Cat rabies vaccination side effects are rare and typically include:
- Slight Fever
- Decreased Appetite
- Localized Swelling
In some excessively rare cases, a cat can have an allergic reaction to the vaccine, leading to hives, extreme weakness, and unexplained collapse. It's important for pet parents to know that fewer than 0.001% of cats will have allergic side effects to modern rabies vaccines. It is always safer to have your cat vaccinated against rabies than to risk potential infection in the future.
Why Your Indoor Cat Needs Their Rabies Vaccine
Cat owners might believe vaccination against rabies is unnecessary if their cat is an indoor cat, but this is not the case. While it might be true that you don't allow your cat outside your home, the potential for escape--or worse, for an infected bat or rodent to break into your home, is great enough to warrant protection for your feline companion.
The consequences of rabies are simply too dire to take any chances, the best and only way to ensure your cat is completely protected against rabies is vaccination.
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.