3 Heart-Breaking Signs of Rabies in Cats (Prevention Tips)
Can cats have rabies and can the disease get transmitted to humans? The answer to both those questions is a resounding yes. Rabies is a terrible viral disease that attacks the central nervous system and is close to 100 percent fatal once symptoms appear. According to the CDC, rabies in cats is on the rise, and cats are now more likely than dogs to be reported rabid in the United States.
Cats and Rabies (All it Takes is a Small Scratch)
The rabies virus progresses quickly, and if your cat is ever bitten or scratched by a wild animal or a dog or cat that you don't think has been vaccinated against rabies, you should seek veterinary attention immediately.
Stages of Cat Rabies Symptoms
The symptoms of rabies in cats can vary and they often take months to be apparent. Rabies symptoms in cats can be categorized into three stages, the prodromal, the furious, and the paralytic. Each stage is associated with unique sets of symptoms. Cats with rabies may go through one stage only or all three. In most cases, there will be a combination of physical and behavioral symptoms.
#1 Prodromal Symptoms
Prodromal is the first stage of rabies in cats. At this stage, the cat may exhibit changes in temperament. Active cats can become nervous, withdrawn, and lethargic. Cats with mellow demeanor may become agitated, aggressive, and vocal.
Symptoms: Change in demeanor, increased aggression, sudden unnatural shyness, or constant state of agitation.
#2 Furious Symptoms
Known as ‘furious stage’, this is the second stage of feline rabies. If a cat enters this stage symptoms it becomes highly irritable and dangerously aggressive. Cats in the furious stage of rabies are easily provoked and they often do not hesitate to attack. Some cats experience muscular spasms in throat and mouth muscles. This results in excessive drooling induced by difficulty in swallowing saliva. Some cats experience slack-jaw and face severe difficulty in breathing. As this form of rabies progresses, cats might experience disorientation and have seizures that result in death.
Symptoms:Unnaturally high aggressive state of mind and drooling.
#3 Paralytic Symptoms
Like its name suggests, paralytic stage of rabies is marked by a typical comatose state in cats. Some cats can bypass the furious stage and directly enter this stage. Most cats succumb to respiratory failure.
Symptoms:Paralysis culminating in death.
Fortunately, this deadly disease is preventable. Cats should receive their first rabies vaccination at around three months of age and then regular boosters according to a schedule set by your veterinarian. The rabies vaccine is more than just a good idea as it’s mandated by most state laws. Take a look at this chart of rabies laws by state.
Two Rules of Rabies Prevention in Cats
- Never Miss a Vaccination Shot
- Keep Cats Indoors During Rabies Endemic
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.