Feline Rabies Vaccination Schedule

Feline rabies is a deadly viral disease that can be easily transmitted to other cats by bite or by possible contamination of an open wound. Rabies can be passed to most animals and also humans, and poses a severe threat of painful death. Vaccination against this disease can considerably reduce the risk of contamination. Cats who are exposed to wild animals are at greatest risk of infection. Following a feline rabies vaccination schedule can be of great benefit, especially if you live in a part of the country with an elevated risk of rabies. 

Feline Rabies Vaccination Schedule

Kittens should receive their first feline rabies vaccination somewhere between 2 and 6 months old. Kitten shots help to boost the immune system of newly born and young cats. It's important to note that vaccinations are not a shield against disease, but rather a trick to make the immune system believe a disease is invading. This way, the immune system builds up its own shield against the ailment and has a higher tendency to protect against it if contact is made later in life. Rabies vaccinations may be required by law in some states and the time periods vary. Many states used to require a yearly shot for this disease, but information is surfacing to show that this vaccine is effective for at least 3 years, and administering shots more often is unnecessary and often harmful. While state laws must be followed, you may wish to lobby for changes if your state still requires yearly rabies vaccinations.

Importance of Feline Rabies Vaccination

Infection of rabies has become more common in cats than in dogs. Rabies is a public health issue, and once an unvaccinated cat contracts the virus, it must either be euthanized or put into quarantine for a period of months, depending upon laws in your state. The cost of either of these options falls upon the owner. While indoor cats are at much lower risk of contracting rabies, it's still possible. If the rabies vaccine is not required by law, it will be an important decision that you must make as a pet owner.

Risks of Vaccination

Recent studies have determined that there may be significant health risks associated with vaccines themselves, especially when they're administered more often than necessary. The feline rabies vaccination itself has been reported to potentially cause flaccid paralysis in cats. This begins in the hind leg where the injection was administered. Paralysis spreads to the other hind leg, then the front legs and then begins to affect the brain. Dementia sets in and the cat will eventually need to be euthanized. This seems to occur only when using the live virus during vaccination. Opting for a vaccination using a killed virus will prevent this scenario. Commonly, however, with vaccinations including feline rabies and others, a lump may form at the injection site and persist for days or weeks. Often this lump will be painful, but will subside on its own. Rarely, lumps will form tumors, or other symptoms will develop such as rash, vomiting, lethargy, seizures, and tissue, kidney or liver damage.