How Long Does a Cat Rabies Shot Last?

Deciding how and when to administer a cat rabies shot depends upon a number of factors, including your location, your cat's health and medical history and his known allergies and adverse reactions to vaccinations. Rabies is a very serious disease and is always fatal if not treated immediately. Fortunately, however, rabies is extremely rare in most urban and suburban areas. Although a rabies shot lasts between one and three years, depending upon the exact type of vaccination, you should consult with a veterinarian about a proper vaccination schedule for your pet before administering the vaccine.

Standard Vaccination Schedules

Most areas recommend a rabies shot for your pet every 2 to 3 years. The vaccinations may begin when your cat is a few months old, depending upon his health and growth. If you live in an area with a high frequency of rabies cases, or if your pet spends a large amount of time out of doors or where he can come into contact with animals that have rabies, your vet may recommend providing a vaccine every year.

Reasons to Avoid Frequent Vaccinations

The vaccination process itself always carries a certain degree of risk. Most veterinarians will agree that it is best to vaccinate your pets no more than is necessary. Many cats experience adverse reactions to vaccinations in general, and may develop skin rashes, irritation or even fibrosarcoma, a malignant form of cancer associated with vaccinations.

Rabies vaccinations carry a relatively high risk of some form of adverse effect. Although allergic reactions are still relatively uncommon among cats that are given a vaccination against rabies, they are common in comparison with cases of similar reactions to other disease vaccinations. The risk of your pet contracting the rabies disease from the vaccine is minimal, but may still be a consideration.

Rabies vaccines are highly effective in preventing the disease. The chances of your pet contracting rabies if exposed to the disease within three years of a rabies vaccine are very small. You can help to account for the slight decrease in the effectiveness of the vaccine by taking precautionary measures to limit your pet's potential exposure.

Your location may also play a large part in determining how frequently you should provide your cat with a rabies vaccine. Certain urban and developed areas may have such a low risk of rabies infection that the cost and risks of the vaccination process itself outweigh the potential benefits of such protection. Rabies spread between cats has been virtually eliminated throughout the United States, and many other areas of the world have comparably low incidence as well. There is a risk that your pet will contract the disease from a wild animal, however.

Before you administer a cat rabies shot to your pet, speak with your veterinarian to determine the appropriate vaccination schedule for your cat. Depending upon the situation and your pet's health, he may not require a rabies vaccine more frequently than every few years.