Signs of a Rabid Cat and What to Do If Your Pet Is Exposed
Even the mere mention of a rabid cat strikes terror into the hearts of pet guardians all around the world for a good reason. Rabies is a highly infectious illness that, once symptoms of rabies in cats appear, is nearly invariably deadly. While rabies is a genuine hazard in many parts of the world, you may reduce your cat’s chance of contracting this terrible disease by vaccinating him and keeping him indoors. As an added bonus, here are the answers to seven frequently asked questions regarding rabies so that you are better prepared to keep your cat safe.
1. What Is Rabies?
It is fully avoidable and is caused by a virus that attacks the brain and spinal cord of animals. Rabies is a perfectly preventable disease that is caused by a virus. All 50 states, with the exception of Hawaii, have recorded cases of rabies, despite the fact that the state has rigorous quarantine regulations in place to keep the virus away from its citizens and visitors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rabies is responsible for the deaths of around 59,000 persons each year throughout the world.
When there are high numbers of unvaccinated wild cats or dogs in a region, rabies is more likely to be reported.
2. How Is Rabies Transmitted?
When a rabid cat or any other creature bites another mammal that has received the virus, rabies is most usually spread. The saliva of sick mammals has the potential to spread the disease. Rabies can also be spread if the saliva of an infected animal comes into touch with an open wound or mucous membranes, such as the gums, of a susceptible individual.
3. What Are the Signs of Rabies?
When it comes to rabies in cats, there are often three main stages. The initial stage is referred to as the prodromal stage. This stage is characterized by behavioral changes that are not typical of the cat’s personality: a timid cat might become extroverted, and an outgoing cat can become shy, and so on. Rabid cats can also turn aggressive. The second stage is referred to as the angry stage, and it is the most hazardous stage in a rabid cat. Rabid cats may become agitated and even violent during this period of their development.
Here’s where it gets interesting.
This stage is followed by a coma and inability to breathe, which, regrettably, is the stage in which the cat dies the majority of the time.
4. How Long Will It Take for a Cat to Show Signs of Rabies?
A cat will not show indications of rabies immediately after being exposed to the virus. Symptoms often appear between three and eight weeks after the onset of the disease, although they can appear as soon as ten days or as late as a year after the onset of the disease. Several factors influence the rate at which signs and symptoms manifest, including the site of infection (the closer a bite was made to the brain and spinal cord, the more quickly symptoms will develop), whether the virus was present in saliva of an infected animal at the time of the bite (it is not always present), and how severe the bite was.
5. How Is Rabies Diagnosed?
Rabies can only be detected in the brain tissue of a killed mammal, and this is the only way to diagnose it. If a veterinarian suspects that a deceased or killed animal has rabies, the brain will be removed and a direct antibody test for rabies will be performed.
6. How Can Rabies Be Prevented?
Cats can be readily protected against rabies with regular vaccination and confinement to a home environment. In most states, rabies vaccination is obligatory for all cats as a matter of law. In addition to the initial treatment, your cat will receive the vaccination again a year later, and then once every three years following that. When you get your cat vaccinated, you will be given a rabies tag and certificate; retain them because you will need them when you go to register your cat.
7. What If My Cat Is Exposed to Rabies?
If you suspect a wild animal or your cat may be infected with rabies, avoid contact with them. Take precautions to keep yourself safe. For recommendations, contact the animal control agency in your community. Animal control will very certainly arrive and take the animal away, after which they will advise you on the best course of action. However, while keeping your cat indoors is the most effective method of protecting them from harm, some cats like making a break for it every now and again. If you have a backyard, you should consider constructing a safe enclosure for them to wander in.
While there is no cure for rabies in cats once the symptoms appear, there are steps you can do to keep this disease from harming your cat in the first place.
Dr. Sarah Wooten is a medical doctor. Dr. Sarah Wooten received her veterinary degree from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. Her professional time is divided between small animal practice in Greeley, Colorado, public speaking on themes such as associate concerns, leadership, and client communication, and writing. Dr. Wooten is a member of the American Society of Veterinary Journalists, which she joined in 2007. Camping with her family, skiing, SCUBA diving, and competing in triathlons are some of her favorite pastimes.
How to Tell if a Cat Has Rabies
Article in PDF format Article in PDF format Every year, a small number of cases of cat rabies are reported in the United States. Because some cats are not vaccinated or their vaccinations have expired, and they come into touch with a potentially lethal wild animal, this occurs in certain cases. If you come into touch with a cat that you fear may be infected with rabies, there are specific indicators of the disease that you may check for in the animal to determine whether or not it is infected.
Contact animal control, a local wildlife organization, or the police on their non-emergency number if you have an animal problem.
- 1 Keep an eye out for early indications of rabies. In the early stages of rabies, it might take anywhere from two to 10 days to appear. For the duration of this period, the cat will appear sick and have non-specific symptoms. The following are examples of early non-specific indications of rabies:
- Muscle pain, restlessness, irritability, chills, fever, malaise (a general sensation of sickness and discomfort), photophobia (a fear of bright lights), anorexia (a lack of interest in food), vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, difficulty or reluctance to swallow are all symptoms of fibromyalgia.
- Secondly, check your cat for bite marks or evidence of a fight. If you have reason to believe your cat has come into touch with a rabid animal, look for bite wounds or evidence of a battle on his body before proceeding. Wearing gloves and long-sleeved shirts and pants before touching the cat is recommended since the rabies virus can survive on the cat’s skin or hair for up to two hours. In the event that an infected animal bites and infects another animal, the saliva of the infected animal may spread rabies to the healthy animal. Once the illness has gained entry into the body, it travels through the nerves to the spinal cord and brain where it can cause damage. If you detect any of the following symptoms, take your cat to the veterinarian immediately away:
- Bite marks, scabs, scrapes, ruffled fur with dried saliva, abscesses, and other conditions
- Examine your surroundings for evidence of “stupid” or paralytic rabies. When it comes to cats, the dumb form of rabies is the most prevalent type of rabies. In addition to seeming sluggish, disoriented, and unwell, cats suffering from dumb form rabies will also appear sick. Cats are not violent and rarely seek to bite when they have this kind of rabies. Among the signs and symptoms of dumb or paralytic rabies are:
- Inability to move the legs, facial muscles, or other portions of the body
- A lowering of the lower jaw, giving the appearance of being “dumb.” An excessive amount of salivation that forms a froth around the mouth
- Difficulties swallowing
- 4 If a cat is exhibiting severe rabies signs, proceed with caution. Cats suffering from the furious type of rabies are frequently aggressive, exhibit odd behavior, and froth at the corners of their mouths. Although the majority of people associate rabies with these characteristics, the furious type of rabies is less prevalent in cats than the paralytic version, according to research. If you suspect that a cat is suffering with the furious type of rabies, contact animal control for assistance right away. A cat suffering from a severe type of rabies will attack, so do not attempt to trap the cat on your own. The following are symptoms of rabies in its furious form:
- The cat’s mouth is filled with foamy saliva, which appears to be foaming. Being terrified of being near water or being scared by the sound of water is known as hydrophobia. aggressiveness, such as clenching teeth as if ready to bite
- Disinterest in meals
- Biting or assaulting
- Aberrant behavior, such as chewing on one’s own skin
- 1 If you find a cat that appears to be infected, contact animal control immediately. It is not recommended that you attempt to capture a rabid cat on your own. If you notice any symptoms that a cat may be diseased, you should contact animal control immediately. It is in this manner that the cat may be transported to the veterinarian without putting you at risk of being bitten
- If your cat is behaving suspiciously or violently, you should also contact animal control for assistance.
- 2 Take your cat to the veterinarian for an examination. It is important to get any bitten cats and other animals to the veterinarian as soon as possible after they have been attacked by another cat or other animal. During the examination, the veterinarian will ask you questions concerning probable rabies exposure (such as recent skunk scent in your yard, exposure to raccoons, and whether or not there are any bats in the vicinity) and will inspect your cat.
- Always remember that there is no way to tell whether or not an animal has rabies without doing a live animal test on it. It is necessary to remove the brain from the body. It will be necessary to examine tiny portions of the brain under a microscope in order to determine the existence of Negri bodies in order to obtain a rabies diagnosis.
- 3Ask your veterinarian to provide a rabies booster vaccine to your cat. Your cat will be given a booster dosage of the vaccine as soon as possible after being bitten, even if he has already been inoculated against rabies. This will aid in the battle against the infection by his immune system. In addition, he will be subjected to 45 days of observation for indications of rabies. The majority of the time, this can be accomplished at home as long as your cat is kept isolated and does not come into touch with any other animals or humans outside of the household. 4 Be aware that euthanasia may be required in some cases. A cat that has not been vaccinated against rabies and is bitten by a verified rabid animal is frequently put to death as a precaution. This is due to the fact that rabies is a major threat to human health, and there is a high likelihood that the cat may become infected
- If the cat’s owner refuses to put the pet down, the cat will be confined and watched for six months before being released. This quarantine period must be completed at the expense of the owner at a veterinarian facility. If the cat does not succumb to rabies during this period, he will be permitted to return to his owner’s residence. He will only need to be vaccinated against rabies one month prior to being released.
- 1 Make sure that your cat’s vaccines are up to date and that it is healthy. Getting your cat vaccinated against rabies is the most efficient and cost-effective strategy to protect him from this illness. Rabies vaccines are mandated by law in several countries
- In others, they are optional.
- In order to ensure that your cat’s rabies vaccine is always up to date, make an appointment with your veterinarian on a regular basis. Some vaccinations must be delivered on an annual basis, every two years, or every three years
- Others must be administered every three years.
- 2 Keep your cat indoors at all times. Another strategy to keep your cat safe from rabies is to keep him away from wild animals as much as possible. In addition to the fact that your cat will not be in contact with neighboring cats, raccoons, or other animals that may be harboring rabies, keeping your cat inside is the best option.
- If your cat is accustomed to going outside, only allow him to go outside while you are present to supervise him. Do not allow your cat to get into contact with any unknown animals.
- 3 Prevent wild creatures from entering your yard by fencing it in. Wild animals are a common source of rabies transmission. If your yard does not appeal to wild animals, the likelihood of your cat coming into touch with a rabid animal is reduced significantly. Among the measures you may take to keep wild animals out of your yard are the following:
- Installing tight-fitting lids on all of your garbage cans. ensure there are no hiding places for skunks or raccoons, such as beneath your deck or in your home, constructing a fence to keep roaming animals out of your yard
- Maintaining the health of your plants and bushes
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- Is it possible to contract rabies from a cat scratch? A veterinarian with over 30 years of expertise in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice, Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS, is a member of the British Veterinary Medical Association. Veterinary medicine and surgery were among the subjects she studied when she graduated with honors from the University of Glasgow in 1987. She has been employed at the same animal clinic in her hometown for more than two decades now. Contribute to wikiHow by unlocking this expert answer provided by a veterinarian. The rabies virus is spread by the saliva of a cat. The probability of infection transmission by scratching is consequently far lower than that from biting. If, on the other hand, the cat scratches and breaks the skin, and then dribbles saliva over the wound, this increases the chance of infection. Question How long does it take for rabies symptoms to manifest themselves in a cat? A veterinarian with over 30 years of expertise in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice, Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS, is a member of the British Veterinary Medical Association. Veterinary medicine and surgery were among the subjects she studied when she graduated with honors from the University of Glasgow in 1987. She has been employed at the same animal clinic in her hometown for more than two decades now. Contribute to wikiHow by unlocking this expert answer provided by a veterinarian. The distance between the cat’s bite and the brain determines how long it takes for the symptoms to manifest themselves. This is due to the fact that the virus must travel via the nervous system in order to reach the brain. The incubation time might be as little as 10 days or as long as a year, depending on the severity of the infection. Question Is it possible to contract rabies from a cat bite? A veterinarian with over 30 years of expertise in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice, Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS, is a member of the British Veterinary Medical Association. Veterinary medicine and surgery were among the subjects she studied when she graduated with honors from the University of Glasgow in 1987. She has been employed at the same animal clinic in her hometown for more than two decades now. Contribute to wikiHow by unlocking this expert answer provided by a veterinarian. If the cat that bit you has rabies, then a bite from that cat has a high chance of transmitting the rabies virus to the person who bit you. A cat bite wound is one of the most prevalent sources of infection because the virus is conveyed from the cat’s saliva into the victim’s blood stream.
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- Keep in mind that age is not a factor in determining whether or not a cat is infected with the virus. Even kittens are susceptible to rabies infection.
- Even if you don’t believe the animal has rabies, wash any bite wounds with soap and water and call your doctor if the wound becomes infected. If bites are not treated immediately, they can get infected with germs and potentially fatal. Keep an extra eye out for bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes, among other animals. In the United States, these are the most prevalent carriers of rabies
- Wild creatures should be let alone! This covers creatures that are still in their infancy. Even young animals can be infected with rabies. You should contact animal control or a wildlife shelter if you come across some newborn animals who appear to have been abandoned by their mother.
About This Article
The following are some of the most common early indicators of rabies in cats: agitation, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, lack of appetite and difficulties to swallow (see the full article for a full list of symptoms). Examine your cat for bite marks or evidence of a struggle if you fear it may have contracted rabies from another animal. Cats are frequently infected with the disease by fighting with a rabid animal. However, if your cat is foaming at the mouth and acting aggressively, you should be extremely cautious since this might indicate that it has the furious type of rabies.
Continue reading to find out how to treat a rabid cat with the assistance of animal control and a veterinarian!
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Rabies is a viral illness that affects only the central nervous system of cats and cannot be transmitted to humans (CNS). A bite from a disease carrier such as foxes, raccoons, skunks, or bats is the most common manner in which cats get the rabies virus in the United States. An infectious viral particle is kept in a rabid animal’s salivary glands so that the virus can be more effectively disseminated through their saliva. Once the virus has entered the cat’s body, it multiplies in the cells of the muscles and then travels to the nearest nerve fibers, which include all peripheral, sensory, and motor neurons, before moving to the central nervous system (CNS) via fluid contained within the nerves (see illustration).
As soon as the symptoms begin to appear, the virus advances at a rapid pace.
Can Humans Get Rabies, and Can You Get Rabies from a Cat Scratch?
As a result, this severe and frequently deadly viral polioencephalitis has zoonotic features, and as a result, it may be spread to people from animals. Rabbit rabies is often transmitted by the saliva of an infected animal, with bites being the most prevalent mode of transmission. It is still possible to get rabies from a cat scratch or from a scratch from any infected animal, although the risk is decreasing in recent years. Other, less common modes of transmission include open wounds and mucosal membranes that come into touch with contaminated saliva, amongst other possibilities.
Symptoms and Types of Rabies in Cats
There are two types of rabies: the paralytic form and the furious kind. It is common for cats to display relatively moderate evidence of CNS abnormalities during the early symptoms (prodomal) stage of rabies infection. This period will last anywhere between one and three days. The majority of cats will subsequently move to either the angry stage, the paralytic stage, or a mix of the two stages, while some will die to the virus without presenting any significant symptoms all. Furious rabies is marked by significant behavioral changes, such as overt hostility and assault behavior, among other characteristics.
This is a virus that spreads quickly.
Consequently, if your cat has been involved in a fight with another animal, has been bitten or scratched by another animal, or if you have any reason to suspect that your pet has come into contact with a potentially infectious animal (even if your pet has been vaccinated against the virus), you should take your cat to a veterinarian for preventive care as soon as possible after the incident.
There are a few other signs to look out for in your cat, which are as follows:
- Jaw is lowered
- Inability to swallow
- Lack of muscular coordination
- And other symptoms. Shyness or hostility that is out of the ordinary
- Excessive excitability
- Constant irritability/changes in attitude and conduct
- Excessive, dripping salivation (hypersalivation), or frothy saliva
- Paralysis of the mandible and larynx
- Excessive, dripping salivation (hypersalivation)
Causes of Rabies in Cats
Pica; fever; seizures; paralysis; hydrophobia; jaw is lowered; inability to swallow; lack of muscular coordination; and other symptoms Shyness or hostility that is out of the ordinary; excessive excitability; constant irritability/changes in attitude and conduct Excessive, dripping salivation (hypersalivation), or foamy saliva; Paralysis of the mandible and larynx; Hypersalivation;
Diagnosing Rabies in Cats
If you have reason to believe your cat has rabies, contact your veterinarian right away. Casing or otherwise subduing your cat and transporting it to a veterinarian to be quarantined is recommended if it is safe to do so. Please notify animal control if your cat is behaving angrily or attempting to attack, and you are concerned about the possibility of getting bitten or scratched as a result of this behavior. Your cat will be confined in a secure cage for a period of 10 days by your veterinarian.
Rabies is diagnosed by evaluating the fluids from an animal’s brain, skin, saliva, and urine, rather than the animal’s blood serum.
If your cat dies while in confinement, or if it begins to exhibit progressive indications of rabies, your veterinarian will take fluid samples.
Treatment for Rabies in Cats
You must show your veterinarian documentation of your cat’s rabies vaccine if your cat has been immunized against the disease. Anybody who has come into touch with your cat’s saliva or been bitten by your cat (including yourself) should be advised to seek medical attention promptly. The unfortunate reality is that rabies is invariably lethal in uninfected animals, with death happening within 7 to 10 days of the onset of the first signs of illness. If a rabies diagnosis is confirmed, you will be required to report the case to your local health authority for further investigation.
A vaccinated animal that has bitten or scratched a person, on the other hand, should be isolated and monitored for a period of ten days after the incident.
Living and Management
Using a 1:32 dilution (4 ounces per gallon) of home bleach solution, disinfect any surface the animal may have contaminated (particularly with saliva) to promptly inactivate any virus that may have been transmitted. Allowing oneself to come into touch with your cat’s saliva is not recommended.
If your cat has swallowed an item, do not reach inside its mouth without first taking care to avoid contaminating the environment. Through an accidently scratched area of your skin, saliva can enter your body, increasing your chances of catching the virus.
Rabies in Cats
Rabies is a viral illness that may infect any warm-blooded animals, including cats and humans, but certain species are inherently immune to the disease. Rabies is spread by the bite of an infected animal. When rabies symptoms appear, it is a condition that is nearly always deadly to the victim. It has been known and documented that rabies exists from roughly 2300 BC.
How widespread is rabies?
Rabies may be found on every continent, with the exception of Australia and Antarctica. The majority of countries are affected. The majority of nations that are free of rabies are located on or near islands. The following countries or islands are now recognized as rabies-free: This group of rabies-free countries has depended on tight quarantine rules to keep the illness out, and in particular, to prevent the virus from spreading into their respective countries’ animal populations. The United Kingdom and some other rabies-free nations have recently revised their quarantine restrictions for cats and dogs that have been properly vaccinated and microchipped and satisfy specific requirements.
How is the virus transmitted?
The rabies virus is not capable of surviving long outside of a mammal’s body. Because the virus may be shed in the saliva of infected animals, the virus is primarily transferred when the saliva of an infected animal is introduced beneath the skin of a bite wound, which is a process known as direct contact transmission. For example, in North America, key reservoirs of the virus include the skunk, raccoon, fox and bat, but in Europe, foxes are the most common source of infection for both humans and other animals.
In certain regions, human infection is more prevalent than in other places.
How long is the incubation period between a bite from an infected animal and the appearance of symptoms in the cat?
This can range anything from 10 days to a year or more in length. The incubation period in the cat is often shorter than that in the dog, ranging from three to eight weeks. Death generally happens within 10 days after the commencement of the first signs and symptoms. The following factors influence the rate at which clinical symptoms appear: 1. The location of the illness. The closer the bite is to the brain and spinal cord, the more quickly the virus is able to reach the neural tissue and cause symptoms to manifest themselves.
The degree of ferocity of the biting.
The amount of virus that is transmitted by the bite.
It has been discovered that the Rabies virus is not always present in the saliva of an affected animal.”
What are the clinical signs of rabies?
Immediately following an animal bite or scratch, the illness develops and evolves through three distinct stages: There is a significant shift in temperament during the initial orprodromal stage; calm cats get agitated and can become aggressive, whilst lively extroverts may become frightened or shy. 2. This phase is followed by a kind of rabies known as furious rabies, which is by far the most frequent type of rabies found in cats. Excitement reigns at this period, and it is during this stage that the cat is at its most hazardous, both to other animals and to the owner.
Muscle spasms may frequently inhibit swallowing, and there will be copious saliva dripping from the mouth.
Third, the paralytic stage occurs around seven days following the onset of the first two stages. Finally, the cat will fall comatose and succumb to its injuries. A characteristic of rabies in cats is a significantly dilated pupil that persists throughout the course of the disease.
How is rabies diagnosed?
“The diagnosis of rabies can only be made via direct examination of the brain.” It is only via direct inspection of the brain that rabies may be identified. When dealing with a living animal, it is impossible to identify this condition. It may be necessary for your veterinarian to propose that you submit adequate brain samples for testing if there is a high suspicion that the animal has rabies or if an animal displaying symptoms of rabies dies suddenly.
Is it possible to survive a bite from a rabid animal?
In rare instances, the rabies virus is not present in the saliva of the rabid animal when it attacks another species. In this circumstance, the animal that has been bitten will not get rabies. However, once the signs of rabies appear, the disease will nearly always proceed to the point where the patient dies. “It is possible to halt the progression from an infected bite to the beginning of indications by administering anti-rabies serum as soon as feasible after the bite.” There have been extremely uncommon and poorly recorded incidents of people or animals regaining their health.
This antiserum includes antibodies that are unique to the virus being treated.
By stimulating the development of neutralizing antibodies against the rabies virus, the vaccination encourages the bitten animal to become immune to the virus in the future.
Is post-bite vaccination always effective in people?
According to the National Institutes of Health, “anti-rabies antibodies created by post-bite vaccination are only effective when delivered prior to the rabies virus entering the brain system.” If the anti-rabies antibodies created by post-bite vaccination are not provided prior to the rabies virus entering the brain system, they will not be effective. As soon as the virus enters the nerve cells, it begins to propagate along the nerve fibers, where it is safe from antibody action. People who have been exposed to, or are at risk of being exposed to, a rabid animal should receive immunization as soon as possible as a result.
Is post-bite vaccination used in exposed cats?
It is recommended that an unvaccinated exposed cat that has bitten or scratched a human not be administered antiserum or vaccination since it may disguise evidence of illness. Whenever there is a high likelihood of exposure, the safest course of action is to euthanize the animal; the alternative is a rigorous quarantine for several weeks to several months.
The administration of a booster vaccine, followed by a period of at least thirty days of quarantine and close monitoring, is recommended if the exposed cat has previously had a vaccination.
What is the treatment for rabies?
There is currently no treatment available for a cat suffering with rabies. If rabies is detected, the cat must be quarantined in order to prevent it from escaping and hurting anyone. By law, your veterinarian is obligated to alert the appropriate animal disease regulatory authorities.
Can I catch rabies?
Because the disease is zoonotic, it can be spread from one animal to another. Only the bite of a rabid animal may cause the disease to spread, though. Infected animals have a short time period during which the virus can be found in their saliva “Consult with a medical professional as soon as possible. “If you are bitten by an animal that seems to be rabid, you should wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water immediately and seek medical attention as soon as possible after being bitten. Suspicious animals include stray or feral dogs or cats, as well as any wild animal, particularly if the animal exhibits strange behavior, such as a lack of fear of people, excessive salivation, or hostility, among other characteristics.
Those who have been bitten and have not previously had rabies vaccination should get immunoglobulin (antibody) as soon as possible, followed by a series of rabies immunizations.
Should my cat be vaccinated?
Yes. Rabies immunization is mandated by law in the majority of states and Canadian provinces. In order to ensure the safety of both you and your cats, rabies vaccination of cats is recommended. Rabies vaccinations are highly effective and are often administered to kittens when they are three to four months old. If your state or provincial regulations and the advise of your veterinarian indicate that revaccination should be done at particular intervals, you should follow their recommendations.
Are there any ill effects from rabies vaccination?
Rabies vaccinations are completely safe, and there is no chance of the vaccine transmitting rabies to the recipient. Some types of killed vaccinations have been linked to the development of lumps or malignancies (sarcomas) in the past, although these instances are exceedingly rare. There are safer vaccines available that are less likely to cause tissue responses; thus, if you are concerned about this distant potential, speak with your veterinarian immediately. As is the case with all vaccinations, the individual cat may have some brief minor adverse effects in the first few days after receiving the immunization.
You should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if your cat exhibits more pronounced indications, such as trouble breathing.
Signs of Rabies in Cats
Rabies is a virus that may be fatal to mammals because it destroys their central nervous system. This zoonotic illness may spread to humans and other animals by bites from individuals who are already sick, which is most common. Rabies is most commonly seen in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, and bats, but it can also be found in domestic cats and dogs. More cats than dogs have been reported to have been infected with rabies, maybe because more cats are permitted to wander free and may come into contact with rabid wildlife or stray animals.
Once the indications of rabies develop in a cat, the cat will generally die within a week of the signs appearing.
There is currently no therapy available for rabies in animals. In order to protect all cats from contracting rabies, rabies vaccination is mandatory. Typically, the indications of rabies in cats manifest themselves in three stages: prodromal, excitative, and paralytic.
- Courtesy of Anmbph / Getty Images Prior to noticing any indications of rabies in your cat, you may detect a bite wound or abscess on the cat. This might have come from a wild animal, another cat, or even a dog, all of which are known to transmit the rabies virus. The treatment of any bite wound or other damage should be completed as quickly as possible by a veterinariana. Consult with your veterinarian about your cat’s rabies vaccination history so that you can understand the likelihood of them developing this disease. If the cat has previously been vaccinated against rabies, your veterinarian may urge that it be re-vaccinated following the bite, particularly if the vaccine is over its expiration date. This has been shown to increase immunity and prevent rabies from infecting the cat in some cases. If the cat has never been vaccinated against rabies, there is no therapy available for the disease. Most of the time, these animals must be confined and closely monitored for indications of rabies. Unfortunately, once indications of rabies appear, the only alternative available is compassionate euthanasia. Cats are typically infected with rabies for one to three months after being exposed to the virus, however this period may be extended in rare situations. While the virus is in this state, it travels through the body and into the nerve system, where it finally reaches the brain. After this incubation period, the symptoms of rabies infection manifest themselves. When the first indications of rabies develop, the disease usually kills the victim within a week. It is important to note that cats may be able to transfer rabies for several days before symptoms manifest.
- Sinisa Kukic is a Getty Images contributor. This is the period during which the first indications of rabies begin to alter the cat’s behavior. You could find that your formerly gregarious cat has become shy and hidden. Fearful cats may even learn to become more confident as time goes on. It is possible that the cat may become sluggish and that its appetite will drop. Some cats will demonstrate quite apparent behavioral and temperamental changes as the virus begins to take its toll on their brains, while others will exhibit just minor alterations. Many other cats will initially only display minor changes in their behavior, making it difficult to obtain a firm diagnosis. It normally takes two to three days for rabies to manifest itself in its prodromal stage.
- Image courtesy of Thorsten Nilson / EyeEm / Getty Images During this second stage, cats are more likely to exhibit more drastic changes in their behavior. They look disturbed and restless, and they frequently exaggerate their reactions to everyday sights and noises. A large number of cats will become hostile for no discernible cause. They have been known to attack people, other animals, and even inanimate things without warning. The excitative stage can last anywhere from one to seven days and may overlap with the previous phases to some extent.
- Photograph by Evgeniia Gordeeva / Getty Images The cat develops weakness and finally paralysis in the head, neck, and chest during the terminal stage of rabies. It will be impossible for the cat to vocalize or swallow if the larynx is paralyzed for any length of time. This is when the well-known symptom of “foaming at the mouth” begins to appear
- If the cat is unable to swallow, salivation will increase dramatically. Eventually, when weakening progresses to paralysis, the muscles that govern respiration are unable to function, and the person dies. rabies is characterized by a paralytic stage that lasts two to four days and finally results in death
It’s crucial to remember that every rabies case is different, and the cat’s symptoms may or may not resemble the common indicators outlined above. Cats who have been exposed to rabies or that show any indications of the disease, no matter how minor, will need to be confined in order to safeguard people and other animals from being exposed. It will be necessary to euthanize sick animals suspected of having rabies. The owner of a cat that is suspected of having rabies will be required to keep the cat isolated for 10 days after the bite has occurred.
If the cat does not die during the quarantine period, it is unlikely that the bite spread rabies to the person who received it.
It is necessary to send the brain to a pathologist for examination after someone has died.
Always consult your veterinarian for health-related inquiries, since they have evaluated your pet and are familiar with the pet’s medical history, and they can provide the most appropriate suggestions for your pet.
Animal Bites and Rabies
The smallest animal bites and scratches can develop infectious and transfer bacteria to other regions of the body, even if they are not serious. It doesn’t matter if the bite comes from a household pet or an animal in the wild; scratches and bites can spread illness. Cat scratches, even those from a kitten, can spread “cat scratch illness,” which is a bacterial infection that can be fatal. Other animals can spread rabies and tetanus, as well. Bite wounds that breach the skin are more prone to develop infected than other wounds.
What is the care for animal bites?
If you have a superficial bite from a familiar home pet that is inoculated and in excellent health, you should follow these steps:
- After washing with soap and water under pressure from a faucet for at least 5 minutes, do not scrub, since this may cause tissue to get bruised. Apply an antibiotic lotion or ointment to the affected area. Keep an eye out for indications of infection at the site, such as increasing redness or discomfort, swelling, or drainage, as well as if the individual becomes ill or becomes ill. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your healthcare professional immediately.
For deeper bites or puncture wounds caused by any animal, or for any bite caused by an unknown species, consult your doctor.
- The bite or scrape should be applied pressure with a clean bandage or cloth to halt the bleeding
- Otherwise, let it alone. For at least 5 minutes, wash the wound with soap and water from a faucet that is running at high pressure. Do not clean the tissue since doing so may cause it to bruise. Dry the wound thoroughly and apply a sterile dressing on it. It is not recommended to seal the wound with tape or butterfly bandages since this might trap dangerous bacteria in the wound. Please contact your healthcare practitioner for assistance in reporting the assault and to decide whether additional treatment, such as antibiotics, a tetanus booster, or a rabies vaccination, is necessary. Especially vital for bites on the face, hands, or feet, as well as bites that produce deeper puncture wounds in the skin, is to seek medical attention immediately. It is also crucial for any cat bites that have a high risk of infection to try to track down the animal who bit you in the first place. Some animals must be trapped, quarantined, and tested for rabies before they may be released. Don’t even think of attempting to capture the animal on your own. The victim may require a series of rabies shots as well as a dose of anti-rabies immunoglobulin if the animal can’t be located or is a high-risk species (raccoon, skunk, or bat), or if an animal attack was unprovoked. Contact the nearest animal warden or animal control office in your area for assistance.
If you have any flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, headache, malaise, decreased appetite, or swollen glands after being bitten by an animal, call your healthcare practitioner right once.
What is rabies?
Rabies is a viral illness that affects some warm-blooded animals. It is caused by a virus belonging to the Rhabdoviridae family and is transmitted to humans. Viruses that affect the neurological system are 100 percent lethal to animals if they are not treated immediately after developing symptoms. In North America, rabies is most commonly seen in skunks, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, and bats, among other animals. These wild creatures have been known to infect domestic cats, dogs, and livestock in some locations.
Individual states keep records of animals that may be carriers of rabies in their jurisdictions.
In underdeveloped countries, where vaccination of domestic animals is not standard, travelers should consult their healthcare practitioner about acquiring the rabies vaccine before to departure.
How does rabies happen?
Viruses that cause rabies enter the body through cuts and scratches, as well as through mucous membranes (such as the lining of one’s mouth or the lining of one’s eyes), and then proceed to the central nervous system. The virus spreads throughout the body when it has established itself in the brain by traveling down the nerves from the brain and multiplying in other organs. The salivary glands have the most significant role in the transmission of rabies from one animal to another. When a rabies-infected animal bites another animal, the rabies virus is communicated to the other animal through the saliva of the bitten animal.
What are the symptoms of rabies?
Between the time of exposure and the development of sickness in humans, incubation periods can range from 5 days to more than a year, with the typical incubation period being around two months. The following are the most often seen signs and symptoms of rabies. Symptoms may include any of the following:
- Initial stage of nonspecific symptoms lasting 2 to 10 days
- Subsequent period of more specific symptoms. Fever, headache, malaise, reduced appetite, and vomiting are all possible signs of the condition. At the location of the wound, you may experience pain, itching, or numbness and tingling.
- Because of their inability to swallow saliva, people frequently experience difficulties swallowing (which is also referred to as “foaming at the mouth”). Even the sight of water may be terrifying for some people. Some people get anxious and bewildered, while others become immobilized
- Some others experience both. It is possible to die immediately or to go into a coma and die as a consequence of various problems.
The symptoms of rabies might be confused with those of other medical diseases or disorders. Always get medical attention if you suspect a medical problem.
How is rabies diagnosed?
The direct fluorescent antibody test (dFA), which is performed on brain tissue, is the most commonly used method for detecting rabies in animals. Diagnostic labs can detect whether or not an animal is rabid in a matter of hours, and they can then communicate this information to medical specialists. If the animal is not rabid, the findings of this test may prevent a human from having to undergo treatment. There are a variety of tests that must be performed in humans in order to confirm or rule out rabies because no one test can be used to definitively rule out the illness.
It is also possible to obtain a skin biopsy from the nape of the neck.
What is the treatment for rabies?
If you or someone you know is suffering from rabies, there is currently no recognized, effective therapy for the condition. There are, however, effective rabies vaccinations that, when provided promptly after an exposure, can provide protection against the disease. It can also be used to safeguard persons who are at risk of being exposed before they are exposed, such as veterinarians and animal handlers.
How can animal bites and rabies be prevented?
Being cautious around animals, even your own pets, can help lessen the likelihood of being bitten by one. In order to avoid animal bites and rabies, it is recommended that you follow the following guidelines:
- You should avoid attempting to separate warring animals. Stay away from odd and ill animals. When animals are eating, please leave them alone. When you’re out in public, keep your pets on a leash. Selecting family pets should be done with caution. Leave no small child alone with a pet under any circumstances. All household dogs and cats should be inoculated against rabies and their vaccinations should be kept up to date. You should never approach or play with wild animals of any type, and you should be aware that domestic animals can be infected with the rabies virus as well. Pets should be closely monitored to ensure that they do not come into touch with wild creatures. To have any stray animals removed, contact your local animal control organization.
What would my healthcare provider need to know about an animal bite?
If you or someone you know gets bitten by an animal, keep the following information in mind to share to your healthcare provider:
- Geographical location of the incident
- The type of animal involved (domestic pet or wild animal)
- The location of the animal. (cut, scrape, licking an open wound) Type of exposition a part of the body that is engaged The total number of exposures
- Whether or not the animal has received rabies vaccination
- Whether or not the animal is ill or in good health. If the animal was “ill,” what symptoms did it exhibit while ill? It is necessary to determine whether or not the animal is available for testing or quarantine.
Could Your Cat Have Rabies?
You are familiar with your cat’s moods and mannerisms, whether you are always wondering whether she has grandiose ambitions to take over the world, if she routinely stalks the toy you hang, or whether she studiously ignores the activities going on around her. Rabies in cats can drastically alter those well-known characteristics in an instant. When rabies affects the brain and spinal cord of animals, it can cause the horrific “mad dog” behavior described in novels and films. Rabies is caused by a virus that affects the brain and spinal cord of mammals.
Rabid “crazy dogs” are a thing of the past in the United States, owing to mandatory vaccination and a reduction in the number of stray canines.
More than 90 percent of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States occur in wild animals (bats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, etc.).
According to Robin Downing, DVM, MS, DAAPM, DACVSMR, CVPP, CCRP, owner of Windsor Veterinary Clinic and theDowning Center for Animal Pain Management in Windsor, Colo., vaccination is essential and also helps protect people from having to undergo uncomfortable rabies treatment after being exposed to the virus.
Examples include a kitten in a city park in Windsor that nipped a woman who was trying to save it from its clutches.
It was necessary to administer post-exposure rabies therapy to the woman as well as anyone else who came into touch with the cat after the incident.
If you are concerned that your cat or kitten may have rabies or may get this deadly disease, educate yourself on the symptoms of infection, the vaccinations available to protect cats, and the specific mechanism by which humans can contract rabies from an infected cat.
How Cats Get Rabies
A bite from an infected animal is the most common method of transmission of rabies. It can also be spread by saliva (for example, if you get some in your mouth) or an open wound, among other ways. Although it is rare that you may contract rabies from a cat scratch, it is conceivable due to the fact that cats lick their paws. Because wildlife is the most common carrier of rabies, house cats who spend a significant portion of their time outside are at the greatest risk of contracting the disease.
It’s critical (and in many cases, mandated by law) that your feline companions have the right vaccinations before entering your home.
Feral cat enthusiasts and veterinarians disagree on the extent to which unowned cats are a source of rabies transmission.
As a result, vaccines and booster vaccinations are mandated by the government.
Signs of Rabies in a Cat
Rabies does not manifest itself immediately. It might take anything from weeks to a year for a cat to get rabies due to a protracted incubation period. An infected cat may only have a few days to survive once the indications of rabies become visible, therefore it’s critical to be on the lookout for the following typical symptoms in an uninfected cat.
Sudden Behavioral Changes
Is Kitty acting in a different manner? Watch for rapid changes in behavior, such as lack of appetite, symptoms of anxiety or anxiousness, more frequent vocalizations, impatience, or excitability, among other things.
Changes in Sociability
A cat who was before sociable may seek seclusion, while a cat who was previously distant may become unexpectedly cuddly.
“Mad Dog” Aggression
The hostility of an infected dog, which has been depicted in novels and movies for years, can manifest itself in cats suffering from rabies as well. Cats that are rabid might become violent, scratching and biting without cause. They may be able to overcome a past phobia of people. There are no apparent signs of rabies in a cat’s eyes, however the animal’s pupils may become dilated if the cat is stressed.
A cat may experience convulsions and lose control of its muscles, as well as the capacity to swallow, in the final stages of the disease. Eventually, the cat’s throat, jaws, and limbs may become paralyzed, and death may result as a result of the condition.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Rabies in Cats
In the end, safety should take precedence over diagnosis. Rabies is a disease that is hazardous to humans and lethal to pets. If you have reason to believe your cat has been bitten by a wild animal, put on gloves before handling your cat and contact your veterinarian immediately. When tracking down or capturing a wild animal that has bitten your cat, you should never attempt to handle or trap the animal, especially if it is behaving oddly (aggressiveness, seizures, or a nocturnal animal out in the daytime).
- The diagnosis of rabies in cats might be difficult to make.
- A veterinarian may be able to utilize tissue from the potentially infected animal that fought or bit your cat in order to diagnose and treat your cat’s illness.
- If the test results are positive and your cat has not been vaccinated against rabies, it will be highly suggested that your cat be killed as well as the other animals.
- If you decline to have your cat put down, the cat may be placed in extreme isolation for at least four months, with no interaction with humans or other animals.
- If the test on the infected animal is positive and your cat has already been vaccinated, your cat will require a booster vaccine and you will need to closely monitor her for 45 days after the vaccination is administered.
- Once the disease’s symptoms manifest, it will be deadly.
When it comes to humans, proper post-exposure treatment nearly always ensures survival. Cats, on the other hand, are not so fortunate.
How to Prevent Rabies
For the reason that there is no treatment for rabies in cats, immunization is the most critical thing you can do to keep Kitty safe from harm. Every cat, regardless of whether it lives indoors or outdoors, young or old, must be vaccinated against rabies. As young as 12 weeks of age, kittens are eligible for vaccination. Because there are variances between the brands of feline rabies vaccination available on the market, your veterinarian may suggest one or a combination of them.
Choosing a Rabies Vaccine for Your Cat
The most effective approach to keep your cat safe from rabies is to ensure that she has had all of her immunizations. With a variety of vaccinations available and administered on a variety of schedules, be careful to choose the vaccine option that is most appropriate for your lifestyle and the requirements of your cat. Remember to take the following factors into account when selecting a rabies vaccine for your cat:
In certain cases, rabies immunizations are only given once a year. Another type of vaccine is delivered with a booster after one year, followed by further vaccinations every three years. The vaccine that is appropriate for your cat is determined by a combination of factors including local legislation, manufacturer recommendations, and your veterinarian’s advice. Downing argues adopting three-year immunizations, despite the fact that the initial cost may be more than the cost of a one-year vaccine, according to Downing.
Duration of Rabies Vaccines
“If we utilize the one-year vaccination, we have to pay an additional fee every year,” Downing explains. In the event that we employ the three-year vaccination, the real cost each year will be the same. Once every three years, the cat owner just makes that financial commitment in their pet.”
Possible Side Effects and Efficacy
“Adjuvants” are substances that are added to certain older vaccinations in order to increase your cat’s immunological reaction to the vaccine. Because a very tiny proportion of cats have developed swelling or growths (feline injection-site sarcoma) at the place where they have received earlier immunizations, newer vaccines do not contain adjuvants.
Indoor Cats May Have Lower Risk of Rabies
There may be disagreement among cat owners and veterinarians over whether domestic cats should be kept entirely indoors, but there is little doubt that keeping your cat home can help protect her against wild or stray animals outside that may be transmitting rabies. It is considerably safer for cats to remain indoors than it is for them to spend time outside, according to veterinarian Dr. Downing. Pet cats can be injured or killed by cars, parasites, and wild predators. While cats may be happier indoors, Downing believes that cat owners must provide interesting indoor conditions for their feline companions.
Whatever method you and your cat choose to explore the world (or the sofa!) together, be sure to consult your veterinarian about keeping your cat’s rabies shots up to date.
In addition to providing professional advise on how to keep her safe, they may also have some fun ideas for indoor activities that will keep her happy and healthy without putting her at danger of contracting rabies in the big outside.