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Rabies is a viral disease that affects the central nervous system of a cat. It is transmitted through a bite by a disease carrier – raccoons, foxes, bats and skunks. The virus is retained in the rabid cat’s salivary glands and is disseminated easily through their bite. Once the virus enters the body of the cat, it replicates itself in the muscle cells and spreads to the nearby nerve fibers including the sensory, peripheral and motor nerves. It travels from there to the CNS via nerve fluid. The incubation time for the disease can be anywhere from one to three months. Once the symptoms set in, the virus tends to progress rapidly.Can you get rabies from a cat scratch?
This virulent infection has zoonotic characteristics, which means that it can be transmitted to human beings. It is usually transmitted through the infected animal’s saliva and is spread through bites. It is theoretically possible to get rabies from a cat scratch or a scratch of any infected animal, but it is less common. Some other methods of transmission include mucous membranes or open wounds that come into contact with the infected saliva.Types and symptoms
There are two main forms of rabies – furious and paralytic. During the early stages of the infection, your cat will show mild CNS abnormalities. This will last anywhere between one and three days. Following this, most cats progress to the paralytic stage, the furious stage or a combination of both, while other cats will succumb to the virus without displaying major symptoms.The characteristics of furious rabies include behavioral changes, including attack behavior and overt aggression. Paralytic rabies is characterized by ataxia and weakness in the cat, which is shortly followed by paralysis. Rabies is fast moving. If your cat is not treated soon after he is infected, the prognosis is really poor. If your cat gets into a fight with the other animal, or has been scratched or bitten by another animal, take him to the vet immediately. Here are a few symptoms that you need to watch out for:
- Dropped jaw
- Inability to swallow
- Lack of muscular coordination
- Unusual aggression or shyness
- Excessive excitability
- Changes in behavior and attitude/constant irritability
- Paralysis in the larynx and mandible
- Excessive salivation or frothy saliva
If you suspect that your cat is infected, call the vet immediately. If safe, subdue or cage your cat, and take him to the vet to be quarantined. If he is exhibiting vicious behavior, and if you have cause to believe that you are at risk of being scratched or bitten, contact animal control. Your vet will quarantine your cat and keep him in a locked cage for ten days. This is the only way to confirm a suspected rabies infection.