Rabies in Cats: Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention & More!

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Veterinarian ready to administer rabies vaccine

The word “rabies” alone scares many people, and for a good reason! This viral disease kills millions of pets worldwide and almost 50.000 humans every year. It’s not just dogs who can get it. Rabies in cats has been reported in almost all states.

Fortunately, it’s completely preventable. It’s important for cat owners to know the signs of rabies. Keep reading to know what they are and what you can do to protect Mittens from it!

First Things First: What Is Rabies?

Rabies is a common infectious disease in the United States. There have been cases reported in all fifty states with the exception of Hawaii. In a nutshell, it affects a mammal’s brain tissue and spinal cord. Unfortunately, it is almost always deadly.

It’s not just wild unvaccinated animals who have it. Cats, dogs, pet ferrets, and even guinea pigs can get it. Only the rabies vaccine can protect a mammal from the virus.

We’ve Heard of Rabies in Dogs, But What About Cat Rabies?

Even if you haven’t watched the horror movie Cujo, you have surely heard of rabid dogs. Their mouths foam, they get aggressive, and they don’t recognize their owners anymore. Scary stuff! It’s no secret that puppies can get infected by the rabies virus.

But did you know that our feline companions are at risk of getting rabies too? In fact, rabies is more common in cats than in any other domesticated species.

Essentially, there are two forms of rabies in cats: paralytic and furious. The former affects a cat’s muscles, stopping them from moving. The latter triggers aggressive and out-of-character behaviors. They each have their symptoms, however, they’re equally as dangerous!

How Is Rabies Transmitted? Let’s Find Out!

Rabies in cats can be passed on in a variety of ways. More often than not, rabies is transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. It can also be transmitted when an infected animal’s saliva gets into a cat’s body. This can happen if they have open, fresh wounds or through mucous membranes.

In the United States, outdoor cats are likely to come across wild rabid animals. Think of raccoons, bats, skunks, or foxes. Alternatively, there may also be rabid stray animals (dogs or cats) roaming your neighborhood.

Is a Cat with Rabies Dangerous?

Cat rabies - aggressive kitten biting

Rabid cats can be dangerous. One of the symptoms of the virus is a change in behavior. This includes increased aggression and restlessness.

For this reason, it’s wise to stay away from a rabid pet. Humans can contract the virus and there aren’t a lot of effective cures available. Play safe and call an animal control officer to handle the situation professionally.

7 Common Myths About Rabies Transmission

Despite all the rabies awareness campaigns, there are still some popular misconceptions out there. Make sure to not fall for these 7 myths about rabies in cats:

  1. Indoor cats don’t need a rabies vaccine.
  2. Wild animals in the United States can’t transmit rabies.
  3. Dogs are the only domestic animals that can contract rabies.
  4. Humans can’t get rabies even if they get bitten.
  5. Only wild animal bites can transmit rabies.
  6. Your body’s immune response will take care of the rabies virus.
  7. The rabies vaccine doesn’t protect animals from rabies transmission.

Think You Have a Rabid Cat? What Are the Symptoms of Rabies in Cats?

rabies in cats - sick kitten on a drip

Has your kitten been around a rabid animal recently? If so, it’s crucial that you keep an eye out for signs of rabies. Remember, you need to identify the neurological signs of the viral infection quickly. Only then can you save your furry friend’s life!

12 Rabies Symptoms in Cats

Rabies in cats sometimes tricks cat owners. That’s because the signs of rabies can be confused for flu-like symptoms. The most common symptoms of the rabies virus in cats are:

  1. Loss of appetite
  2. High fevers
  3. Excessive drooling or salivation
  4. Lack of coordination
  5. Paralysis
  6. Aggression
  7. Sudden shyness
  8. Inability to respond to commands
  9. Seizures
  10. Pica (an eating disorder that involves eating foods that have little to no nutritional value)
  11. Inability to swallow
  12. Nasty wounds that seem infected

If You See Any Signs of Rabies in Cats: Go to the Vet!

ginger cat being vet checked for signs of rabies in cats

As soon as you see several of these symptoms, rush to a licensed veterinarian. They will give Mittens a test for rabies that will confirm (or deny!) your suspicions.

Keep in mind that their bite can transmit rabies to you! Handle your kitten with care and wear protective gear, such as gloves and a thick long-sleeved jacket. Animal control may also be willing to help you take your kitty to the vet.

A Look at Rabies Treatment Options

Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for rabies. But don’t be discouraged! If the viral infection is caught soon enough, there are some courses of treatment for rabies that can be tried. That’s why it’s so urgent that you take action as soon as you notice any symptoms of rabies.

Prevention Is Better Than a Cure: Rabies Vaccine for Cats

As the saying goes: You’re better safe than sorry. The only way of avoiding serious complications or death caused by rabies is with a vaccine.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that all cats—indoor and outdoor kittens—be vaccinated for rabies. It helps them produce antibodies to fight this viral infection. Plus, the vaccine isn’t hard to find and it’s relatively affordable — it sure beats rabies, literally!

Another line of defense you can set for your cat is promoting the rabies vaccine in your neighborhood. Tell other pet owners the risks of the virus and explain how beneficial the vaccine is. Also, keep an eye out for any stray animals around your home. Talk to animal control to find out if they’ve been vaccinated. If they haven’t, you could start a fundraiser to set up an anti-rabies vaccination campaign!

Common Questions on Rabies in Cats

Can I get rabies from my cat?

Can a cat get rabies from a dog?

Is there a cure for rabies?

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