Rabies in cats
Rabies in cats: It is a fatal disease that occurs in nearly all warm-blooded animals, although rarely in rodents. In the United States, vaccination programs for cats and other domestic animals have been remarkably effective. This has greatly reduced the risk of rabies in cats, other pets and their owners.
Ninety percent of cats with rabies are under 3 years old, and the majority are male. Rural cats are at the highest risk for rabies because of the potential for wildlife exposure.
The major wildlife reservoirs for rabies (with substantial overlap) are the skunk in the Midwest, Southwest, and California; raccoons in New England and the East; foxes in New York, neighboring eastern Canada, Alaska, and the Southwest; and coyotes and foxes in Texas. Bats, which are distributed widely, also carry rabies.
The Cause Of Rabies In Cats
Symptoms Of Rabies In Cats
General Clinical signs
- behavioral changes.
- pupil dilation changing to constriction.
- drooling and stumbling.
- Normally friendly and affectionate animals can suddenly and unexpectedly turn aggressive and agitated when infected with rabies, and normally aloof cats can become very friendly.
- Infected animals can die within four days of developing clinical signs. Once clinical signs develop, there is no effective treatment for rabies in cats.
Clinic signs with details:
- Signs and symptoms of rabies in cats are due to inflammation of the brain, called encephalitis. During the prodromal (first) stage, which lasts one to three days, signs are quite subtle and consist of personality changes.
- Affectionate and sociable cats often become increasingly irritable or aggressive and may bite repeatedly at the site where the virus entered the body. Shy and less outgoing cats may become overly affectionate.
- Soon, affected animals become withdrawn and stare off into space. They avoid light and may hide and die without ever being discovered.
There are two characteristic forms of encephalitis: the furious form and the paralytic form. A rabid cat may show signs of one or both.
The furious form
- The furious form, or the “mad dog” type of rabies, is the most common. It lasts two to four days.
- A rabid cat can actually be more dangerous than a rabid dog, springing up suddenly and attacking people about the face and neck.
- Soon the cat develops muscle twitching, tremors, staggering, hind leg in-coordination, and violent convulsions.
The paralytic form
- The paralytic form, which occurs in 30 percent of cases, causes the swallowing muscles to become paralyzed.
- The cat drools, coughs, and paws at his mouth.
- As encephalitis progresses, the cat loses control of his rear legs, collapses, and is unable to get up. Death from respiratory arrest occurs in one to two days.
- Because of the rapid course of rabies, paralysis may be the only sign noted.
The incubation period
A few species of animals are more likely to carry rabies than others. Always use caution if you come in contact with bats, skunks or raccoons (especially during the day,since these are normally nocturnal animals), because they are common carriers.These animals can carry rabies but not develop clinical signs. rabies.
Vaccines Against The Rabies In Cats
The rabies vaccine can be administered to kittens over 12 weeks of age, one year later and then every three years, according to the AAFP recommendations. However, the frequency of vaccination may be governed by state and local laws.
Certain states require cats to be vaccinated against rabies,while others do not.Each locale may also have different rules regarding quarantine of animals who bite humans. Healthy, non vaccinated animals who bite humans may be under observational quarantine for 10 or more days.
There are a number of reasons to give your cat as few vaccinations as possible:
- Most vaccines do not prevent infection, but merely lessen the severity should your cat be exposed to any of them.
- More important, cats can develop cancer at the site where vaccines are administered, a fairly recent realization by veterinarians. Several of these vaccinations are given as a 3-in-1 injection, which in itself may raise the chance of a deadly reaction at the site.
- Although statistics show that only a very few cats develop sarcoma at the injection site, nonetheless vets are now advised to give vaccines as far down a front leg as possible—presumably because if cancer does develop, that part of the leg could be amputated, since immediate surgical removal is recommended.
The injections for FPV, FCV and FHV have routinely been given to cats on a yearly basis. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association reported in 2004 that it was no longer necessary to give these 3 vaccinations on a yearly basis because their protection actually lasted 2 years or longer. Vets now recommend that to protect against vaccine-associated sarcoma, a cat should receive as few injections in a lifetime as possible.
Instead of routinely having your cat vaccinated every year, you and your vet should discuss your cat’s risk factors for infection to come up with a safe plan, based on her specific lifestyle and age.
- there is no valid reason for a cat who lives completely indoors to receive certain vaccines.
- Vaccines have been divided into “core” and “non-core,” meaning those that are considered necessary basic vaccinations and those that may be needed depending on a cat’s lifestyle.
- However, you still must have a clear discussion with your own vet about the benefits of each vaccine compared with the risks.
Treatment Of Rabies In Cats
If you or your cat are bitten by any animal of unknown rabies status, it is extremely important to vigorously cleanse all wounds and scratches, washing them thoroughly with soap and water. Studies in animals have shown that prompt local wound cleansing greatly reduces the risk of rabies. The wound should not be sutured.
Prophylaxis in a previously vaccinated cat consists of a booster shot, which should be given as soon as possible after exposure. Vaccination is not effective once signs of rabies infection appear.
The introduction of inactivated vaccines grown in human diploid cell cultures has improved the effectiveness and safety of post-exposure vaccination for humans. Assuming the human bite victim did not have a pre-exposure rabies immunization, both passive rabies immune globulin and human origin active diploid cell vaccine should be given.
There is no effective treatment for rabies. Be sure your pet is properly vaccinated. It is important that cats are vaccinated only under the supervision of a veterinarian. Furthermore, a veterinarian can provide legal proof of vaccination should the need arise.
Public health considerations
Do not pet, handle or give first aid to any animal suspected of having rabies. All bites of wild animals, whether provoked or not, must be regarded as having rabies potential.
If your cat is bitten by a wild animal or a domestic animal whose rabies status is unknown, wear gloves when handling your pet to clean his wounds. The saliva from the animal that is in and around the bite wound can infect a person if it gets into a cut or onto a mucous membrane.
Preventive vaccinations are available for high-risk groups of humans, including veterinarians, animal handlers, cave explorers, and laboratory workers.
Early laboratory confirmation of rabies in cats or any an animal is essential so that exposed humans can receive rabies prophylaxis as quickly as possible. The animal must be euthanized and his head sent in a chilled (not frozen) state to a laboratory equipped to diagnose rabies.
Rabies is confirmed by finding rabies virus or rabies antigen in the brain or salivary tissues of the suspected animal. If the animal cannot be captured and his rabies status can’t be verified, you need to consult your physician, who may suggest prophylactic vaccinations.
Read more about cat and kitten behavior:
- Cat vocalizations
- My Kitten is crazy – Crazy kitten behavior
- Using Comfort Zone Feliway
- Cat Marking Territory
- Cat Spraying
- Cat Body Language
- Understand your cat body language and cat behavior
- Cat Separation Anxiety
- Cat Scratching
- Aggression in cats towards others
- Aggressive cat behavior toward other cats and solutions
- Common Cat Behavior Problems and Solutions