Rabies is more often than not, a fatal disease in cats, dogs, and people. Today, our Laguna Woods vets discuss rabies in cats, as well as the vaccine given to pets to protect them from the rabies virus.
How Rabies Spreads in Cats
Rabies is an infection most commonly found in wild animals like skunks, foxes, and Racoons. The prognosis after catching rabies is not good for unvaccinated cats, for whom the infection is most often fatal.
The virus causes heightened aggression in animals suffering from its effects, and most US states require pets diagnosed with rabies to be put down due to the ease of the disease spreading through saliva. All mammals are capable of catching rabies through the bite of an infected animal, so it's important to protect your pet with an anti-rabies vaccination.
Vaccine Schedule for Rabies in Cats
The schedule for rabies vaccination in cats varies depending on the brand of vaccine used. Most vets offer vaccines without adjuvants, ingredients that proved effective in preventing rabies but caused an allergic reaction in some cats.
Older non-adjuvant vaccines only lasted for a year, so yearly booster shots were required. Newer vaccines have been developed which require a single booster a year after the first vaccination, followed by boosters every 3 years after that; these vaccines are considerably more expensive, however, so some veterinarians opt to stick with the older vaccine technology.
If you ask your vet "how often should my cat have a rabies vaccine?" they will be able to tell you about what vaccination options they offer and what schedule is best for your cat.
Possible Side-Effects of the Rabies Vaccine
Side effects are rare and typically include only slight fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, and/or a localized swelling at the vaccine site.
In some excessively rare cases, a cat can have an allergic reaction to the vaccine, leading to hives, extreme weakness, and unexplained collapse. It should be known that fewer than 0.001% of cats will have allergic side effects to modern rabies vaccines. It is always safer to get your cat vaccinated than to test one's luck against potential rabies infection in the future.
Rabies Vaccination for Indoor Cats
Cat owners might believe vaccination against rabies is unnecessary if their cat is an indoor cat, but this is not the case. While it might be true that you don't allow your cat outside your home, the potential for escape--or worse, for an infected bat or rodent to break into your home, is great enough to warrant protection for your feline companion.
The consequences of rabies are too dire to take any chances with, the best and only way to ensure your cat is completely protected against rabies is vaccination.
Cat Rabies Vaccine Cost
The cost of rabies vaccination varies tremendously between different veterinarians, based in large part on what type of vaccine they use.
Longer-lasting vaccines, as well as vaccines with a smaller number of potential side effects, are much more expensive. The best course of action is to ask your vet about which rabies vaccine(s) they provide, and at what cost. Your veterinarian can help guide you on what vaccination plan is right for your cat's health, as well as your budget.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet for an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition.