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Why should I vaccinate my cat against it? Find out here why rabies continues to be a serious disease for cats.

Cat rabies: what is rabies?

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Rabies is a viral disease known since ancient times, which besides cats can affect many other warm-blooded animals and is almost always fatal. As a zoonosis, it is contagious to humans.

The cause of the disease is the rabies virus, more precisely: rabies lyssavirus. Rabies causes severe encephalitis, which in turn causes behavioral changes. Hence the designation “rabies” and the virus name “Rabies” from the Latin “rabere” for “to rage” and “to rage”.

Rabies is so contagious for humans and animals

Rabies is mainly transmitted through bites: the virus gets into the bite wound via the saliva of the sick animal. Infected animals can infect other warm-blooded animals through bites.

The tricky thing is that the disease leads to changes in personality and aggression. Usually shy wild animals seek close proximity to other animals or people and bite.

In addition to foxes, dogs, cats, and humans, ferrets, badgers, martens, and raccoons, wolves and bats are particularly endangered. Birds, squirrels, and herbivorous warm-blooded animals such as roe deer rarely become ill.

If a person suspects they have been infected with rabies, they can have themselves vaccinated within 24 hours of the infection and thus prevent the onset of the disease. Experts speak of a “post-exposure prophylaxis”. This option is not available for dogs and cats.

How do you recognize rabies in cats? Symptoms

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The rabies virus infects the cat’s nervous system and travels from there to the brain. The incubation period of the disease, which can range from a few days to a few weeks, depends on this distance. Symptoms include:

  • Behavioral changes: tame cats become shy or vice versa
  • Restlessness, aggression, bite rage
  • Extreme fear of water
  • Frequent meowing
  • Increased salivation as a result of swallowing paralysis
  • Progressive paralysis

In some animals the disease is “silent”, that is, with less obvious symptoms. Affected cats, for example, withdraw. Nevertheless, paralysis occurs in the further course. Rabies is almost one hundred percent fatal. Death occurs no later than two weeks after the first symptoms due to respiratory failure.

Rabies vaccination for cats: does it have to be?

Fortunately, there is an effective protection against rabies for cats: vaccination. Many cat owners are unsure whether rabies vaccination is necessary. There are good reasons to have your cat vaccinated against rabies.

Vaccinate outdoor cats against rabies

A rabies vaccination makes sense for cats outdoors, although infection is unlikely. But when it does occur, it is always fatal.

The rabies vaccination not only protects against the disease but also against fatal suspicion. Quarantine is not an option. Cats and dogs with a valid vaccination are excluded.

Vaccinate cats against rabies before traveling

Would you like to move to another country with your cat or go on international trips, for example to a holiday apartment? Then the cat needs a pet passport with a valid rabies vaccination. Because when crossing the borders a rabies vaccination applies. Depending on the country, the vaccination can be one to three years old.

By the way: many boarding houses for cats also require proof of valid rabies vaccination before check-in.

Do indoor cats need a rabies vaccination?

Does a rabies vaccination make sense in purely indoor cats? There is a small risk that indoor cats with access to a veranda or balcony will become infected via bat bites.

This is very unlikely to be taken seriously due to the serious dangers of rabies. If the cat has no access to the outside, no rabies vaccination is required.

Rabies Vaccination of Cats: Cost

  • Basic immunization: 12th week and 15th month of life
  • Rabies vaccination costs: around $50
  • Rabies vaccination is done with the live vaccine
  • Booster vaccination: annually or every three years
  • Side effects: redness at the injection site – find out more about fibrosarcoma

How common is rabies?

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Worldwide, between 17,000 and 60,000 people die of rabies each year – most of them in Asia, especially India, and Africa. Stray dogs that are infected are usually carriers of the disease.

However, bats can be carriers of bat rabies. In the last 50 years, however, only four cases have become known in Europe in which a rabid bat infected a person.

Another danger comes from non-vaccinated dogs or cats from abroad. In 2013, for example, a puppy from Morocco that was rabies was imported into Europe. Strict vaccination requirements will help to keep Europe and America largely rabies-free in the future.