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What are Rabies?

Rabies is a viral infection of the central and peripheral nervous system in a feline. Rabies is a zoonotic disease that is found worldwide among carnivores and other mammals. This fatal disease is passed through the saliva of an infected animal with initial signs of a disturbance in the central nervous system. An infected feline will go through three symptomatic phases as the disease surges through the body. The feline will go from displaying a shy behavior to aggressive within ten days, dying after day ten from the initial sign of infection. Almost all infected animals die after being infected with the rabies virus, but a feline could survive if the pet owner takes the cat to seek veterinary consultation before the virus reaches the nervous system.

Rabies is a viral disease that mainly affects carnivores, but can affect all mammals, including people. The rabies virus is actively spread through the saliva of an infected pet, transmittable through bites or scratches. In the United States, wildlife including; raccoons, skunk, fox, and bats are common vectors of the disease. However, stray dogs and cats are also carriers of the disease, as confrontation with wildlife is the norm. Rabies symptoms can appear as early as ten days after the feline was bitten and as late as a year. The virus affects the brain and nervous system, with initial signs of change in behavior. Rabies is a fatal, incurable disease that can easily infect humans if the proper precautions are not taken.  

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Rabies Average Cost

From 307 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Symptoms of Rabies in Cats

Rabies attacks the brain, resulting in rather distinctive behavioral changes. From the initial sign of a rabies infection, your feline will go through a prodromal stage, a furious rabies or “mad-dog” stage, and finally a paralytic stage. Each of the three stages is characterized by different symptoms, as the virus slowly makes its way to the brain and turns the housecat into a vicious feline. 

Stage 1: Prodromal Stage 

In the prodromal stage, the feline will change her temperament and become the complete opposite of her normal self. For instance, an active, happy feline will suddenly become shy and nervous. The feline may hide, lose interest in food, and become irritable or suddenly hyperactive. In the wild, a species that are normally nocturnal (sleep during the day) are seen wandering the streets in the daytime and become friendly with people. 

Stage 2: Furious Rabies or “Mad-Dog” Stage

In the furious rabies stage, the feline becomes overly aggressive, baring her teeth and claws at the slightest provocation. The feline will be continuously alert with pupils fully dilated. Light, noise and movement will trigger a cat in the second stage of rabies to attack. Furious rabies is often called the “mad-dog” stage because the feline will look like she has gone mad. Continuous drooling, widened eyes, muscle spasms and aggressive behavior are the most prominent signs of stage 2 rabies. Stage 2 rabies is extremely dangerous for humans and it is during this stage that people are commonly infected. 

Stage 3: Paralytic Stage 

The paralytic stage is noted within seven days after the initial stage of rabies and is characterized by the inability to move the muscles of the jaw or throat. The feline will display obvious symptoms of excessive salivation, cannot swallow, and its level of aggression will stoop into depression. The paralysis will slowly move from the throat and jaw to the remaining portions of the body, resulting in death within a matter of hours. 

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Causes of Rabies in Cats

Rabies in cats is caused by a bite or scratch to an unvaccinated feline by an infected animal. Carnivores are common vectors of the rabies virus as nature has given these mammals sharp teeth and claws to pierce the skin. Raccoons, bats, skunks, fox, and feral animals are common reserves for this viral disease.

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Diagnosis of Rabies in Cats

If your cat has been bitten by an animal that you suspect might carry the rabies virus or is displaying symptoms associated with rabies, but your cat is not displaying these symptoms, he/she will be quarantined for a ten day period. It is important to inform the veterinarian of the state of the animal that bit your cat as immediate treatment may be necessary. The veterinarian will review your feline’s medical record, paying close attention to when her last rabies vaccination was administered. After the 10 day quarantine, the vet will reevaluate the cat and decide if she has been infected.  

If your cat is displaying symptoms associated with rabies, the diagnosis can be difficult as early symptoms associated with rabies can be confused with a number of other common feline health concerns. The only true way of diagnosing rabies is by a direct examination of the cat’s brain. The feline will have to be euthanized to perform a post-mortem antibody test using immunofluorescent dyes. 

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Treatment of Rabies in Cats

If you witnessed a rabid animal bite or scratch your cat, and you brought her into the veterinary clinic immediately, there is a possibility for treatment. Just like in people who have been bitten by a rabid animal, if the virus has not reached the nervous system an anti-rabies vaccine can be administered. The anti-rabies vaccine is a group of antibodies that are injected into the body and encourage the immune system to produce antigens to fight the circulating virus. The anti-rabies virus is not always effective and cannot be given to cats that have bitten a human, as the vaccine can mask rabies symptoms.

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Recovery of Rabies in Cats

The majority of cats affected by rabies are euthanized or die on their own, which is why the World Health Association has made rabies a core vaccination. A core vaccination is a vaccine that is required by law to be administered to pets. Vaccinating your cat against the rabies virus and keeping wildlife away from your pet are the only ways you can prevent rabies from infected your feline.

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Rabies Average Cost

From 307 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,000

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Rabies Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Ask a Vet

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Bodhi

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tabby

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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4 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sudden Behavioural Changes
Skittish Of Familiar Objects
Acting Asif Something Happened To Him
Got Into Cat Fight
Scratched On Tail
Fully Vaccinated
Up-To-Date Vaccine
Suddenly, Mildly Skiddish Outside
Eats,Drinks,Litter-Box Normal
Suddently Timid- Off And On

Please,need speedy ADVICE! On 6-28-18 (45 days ago/6+ weeks) my cat got into a fight with a neighborhood cat. I heard them, but couldnt SEE them. Few days later, i noticed a long scab (indicative of a scratch). * He is FULLY VACCINATED against Rabies and UP-TO-DATE. * Vaccine was given on 6-2017 (roughly 1yr ago) and will not need another until 6-2020. * This is a 3 yr regimen. * The 6-2017 is actually his second booster, he had the rabies vaccine prior to that... My question is: Should I take my cat to the vet to get a rabies BOOSTER "just in case" since he did sustain a minor injury (scratch) during a fight with a stray cat that I have NO HISTORY ON? Or is he immune? Is ge OKAY since hes up to date? Im worrying alot about this... hes my furbaby and is counting on (me)momma to protect him. Would it be too late even? Its been 6 weeks.. His behavior changed within 2 weeks of this cat fight. The only major changes in the home is my older cat (and they were somewhat close) had passed away from old age. My cat is suddenly skiddish over objects he is otherwise FAMILIAR WITH. Like for example a paper towel role (he used to tear them up, but runs off now when i hold it up for him to inspect). He is not skiddish constantly, nor CONSISTENTLY.. For the most part he is NORMAL, its just every now and then he will act skiddish. He used to go outside to play nearly EVERYDAY (during the day).. and he played outside with CONFIDENCE, NO FEAR, JUST FUN CHASING LIZARDS.. But I had to keep him in for about 5 weeks, when i let him out now.. he is nervous and skiddish somewhat.. * he was also bitten on the lip by a gopher after he set it down once he caught it. (This was within the same week of the cat fight).. since then hes skiddish of rodents.. So what gives? * is he infected? Is it possible even though hes fully vaccinated? * is he affected by my older cat passing away? * maybe he hit his head when i wasnt looking and its affecting him now? * did he catch something from the gopher? Im really worried over his behavioral changes, and if a booster was needed then or is too late.. i dont know what to do.. Please, any advice is helpful. Thank you.

Aug. 12, 2018

Bodhi's Owner


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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Bodhi is up to date and protected from Rabies if he had the vaccines that you describe. If the wounds have healed 6 weeks later, there isn't likely any infection that occurred that needs treatment. He may be having a combination of the loss of your other cat, and traumas that he has had outside, and being kept inside for a while then re-introduced outside. From your description, he may be having some vision problems, and it may be a good idea to have a veterinarian examine him to make sure that he is okay, but otherwise, you may just need to be patient with him.

Aug. 12, 2018

Approximate vaccine schedule sofar: June 2016: Primary Rabies vaccine June 2017: Rabies BOOSTER Its a 3 year schedule (had 2 in total so far). Next shot: June 2020. ^^for Bodhi^^♡.

Aug. 12, 2018

Bodhi's Owner

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Meeko

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Cat

dog-age-icon

7 Days

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

None

Hello, so last year my cat escaped for a full day and when he came home he seemed unharmed. I didn't think much of it then, but a year later, currently, I was looking in the pet records and realized he has been over due for his rabies shots. For whatever reason I thought it was longer than 3 years for boosters. Nevertheless I made his appointment for tomorrow to get the shot, but I'm worried now, what if he came into contact with a rabid animal and just isnt showing signs yet? I read online it can take a year or more. He has zero symptoms, but I need some reassurance since I have a toddler. I feel foolish that I missed his shots, I honestly thought they were longer spaced out.

Aug. 9, 2018

Meeko's Owner


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recommendation-ribbon

1 Recommendations

It really depends on where you live (some countries are rabies free) and the local wild animal population, if you live in a city with minimal to no wildlife or stray animals the risk would be small; however if you live in an area backing onto a forest or an area full of strays, the risk would be higher. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 10, 2018

Hes about 7 years old not 7 days . My apologies

Aug. 9, 2018

Meeko's Owner


Please,need speedy ADVICE! On 6-28-18 (45 days ago/6+ weeks) my cat got into a fight with a neighborhood cat. I heard them, but couldnt SEE them. Few days later, i noticed a long scab (indicative of a scratch). * He is FULLY VACCINATED against Rabies and UP-TO-DATE. * Vaccine was given on 6-2017 (roughly 1yr ago) and will not need another until 6-2020. * This is a 3 yr regimen. * The 6-2017 is actually his second booster, he had the rabies vaccine prior to that... My question is: Should I take my cat to the vet to get a rabies BOOSTER "just in case" since he did sustain a minor injury (scratch) during a fight with a stray cat that I have NO HISTORY ON? Or is he immune? Is ge OKAY since hes up to date? Im worrying alot about this... hes my furbaby and is counting on (me)momma to protect him. Would it be too late even? Its been 6 weeks.. His behavior changed within 2 weeks of this cat fight. The only major changes in the home is my older cat (and they were somewhat close) had passed away from old age. My cat is suddenly skiddish over objects he is otherwise FAMILIAR WITH. Like for example a paper towel role (he used to tear them up, but runs off now when i hold it up for him to inspect). He is not skiddish constantly, nor CONSISTENTLY.. For the most part he is NORMAL, its just every now and then he will act skiddish. He used to go outside to play nearly EVERYDAY (during the day).. and he played outside with CONFIDENCE, NO FEAR, JUST FUN CHASING LIZARDS.. But I had to keep him in for about 5 weeks, when i let him out now.. he is nervous and skiddish somewhat.. * he was also bitten on the lip by a gopher after he set it down once he caught it. (This was within the same week of the cat fight).. since then hes skiddish of rodents.. So what gives? * is he infected? Is it possible even though hes fully vaccinated? * is he affected by my older cat passing away? * maybe he hit his head when i wasnt looking and its affecting him now? * did he catch something from the gopher? Im really worried over his behavioral changes, and if a booster was needed then or is too late.. i dont know what to do.. Please, any advice is helpful. Thank you.

Aug. 12, 2018

Sharon I.

Was this experience helpful?

Rabies Average Cost

From 307 quotes ranging from $200 - $5,000

Average Cost

$2,000

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

Plan ahead. Get the pawfect insurance plan for your pup.

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