Are you wondering if it's worth the hassle to get your pet vaccinations against rabies? 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 Santa Rosa vets explain why it's important for your cat to get rabies vaccination.
Rabies & Your Cat's Health
Rabies, a deadly virus that impacts the brain, spreads through contact with saliva from infected animals. It affects various mammals, including pets, livestock, wildlife, and humans.
The CDC records approximately 5,000 cases of rabies in animals each year, with the majority occurring in wild animals. Common carriers of the rabies virus include bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes.
Cats are more susceptible to rabies than dogs, mainly due to lower vaccination rates in cats.
Rabies is nearly always fatal. Once signs of rabies manifest, the affected animal typically succumbs within a few days.
Rabies Incubation Period & Spread
If an infected animal bites your cat or if your cat comes into contact with the saliva of an infected animal, your pet will usually start showing symptoms of rabies within 10 - 14 days. However, depending on how your pet was exposed to the virus, it may take several months for symptoms to manifest.
The rabies virus can be transmitted by your pet to other animals and humans as soon as it is present in their saliva. This transmission can occur approximately 10 days before symptoms become noticeable.
There Is No Test For Rabies
If your cat lacks rabies vaccination and encounters an infected animal, you will face some challenging choices.
Since it's impossible to test animals for rabies, pet owners in this situation must decide between two options: euthanizing their beloved cat or isolating the pet and waiting for symptoms to manifest. Even if no symptoms are initially evident, quarantined pets have little chance of survival.
Confirmation of a rabies diagnosis can only occur when symptoms appear or through testing brain tissue after the animal's passing.
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
- Partial or complete paralysis
There Is No Treatment For Rabies
After your pet contracts rabies, your vet cannot provide any treatment for the disease. The only available choices are euthanasia or quarantine. This underscores the critical significance of prevention.
The Importance of The Rabies Vaccine for All Pets
While state vaccination requirements vary, keeping your cat's or dog'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
Many cat owners mistakenly think that vaccinating indoor cats against rabies is unnecessary. However, indoor cats also require protection! Our clever feline companions can occasionally slip out unnoticed, increasing their chances of encountering infected animals. Furthermore, bats and rodents can find their way indoors, posing a potential threat to your pet. Neglecting to vaccinate your pet is a risky choice.
The Bottom Line
As a responsible pet owner, you must take every possible measure to ensure your pet enjoys a long and healthy life. Ensuring that your pet receives regular vaccinations, including protection against preventable diseases like rabies, plays a crucial role in fulfilling this responsibility.
If you have any doubts or hesitations about vaccinating your pet, don't hesitate to consult with your veterinarian. At Montecito Veterinary Center, our veterinarians are always eager to address any concerns you may have and answer your inquiries. We are dedicated to assisting you in keeping your beloved pet in a state of happiness and optimal health.
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.