Symptoms of Rabies in Cats

Rabies in cats is caused by a virus and may be transmitted to humans also. Detecting the rabies symptoms is important, as rabies may is a contagious and fatal condition.

Ways of Transmission

Rabies may be transmitted through scratches and bites from other cats or animals that are infected with rabies. Cats are typically vaccinated against rabies and if vaccinated, they are not at risk.

Other animals that may carry rabies are: feral and stray cats, skunks, raccoons, foxes or bats.

The rabies virus survives for about 24 hours outside a host and is mostly present in an infected animal's saliva.

A bite from an animal with rabies may not necessarily get infected.

Symptoms of Rabies in Cats

A cat that has been bitten by an animal with rabies may get infected. The virus spreads slowly in the cat's body and it takes 2 to 6 weeks for the virus to affect the brain. After this period, the saliva is infected with the virus, so the cat may transmit the virus to others.

There are 3 stages of rabies.

The first stage is known as the prodormal phase and the cat will display the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Fever
  • Behavioral changes

The prodormal stage lasts for 1 to 2 days, during which the cat will lick the bite mark excessively.

The furious stage will be signaled by restlessness and irritability. The infected cat will be very sensitive to noise or light and will roam around the house. The cat may become very aggressive if not left alone.

The paralytic stage will show symptoms such as:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Inability to swallow
  • Lack of appetite
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Choking

All these symptoms are caused by the gradual paralysis that starts with the head and the throat muscles. If the cat is not taken to the vet, he may go into respiratory failure and die.

Diagnostics and Treatment

Rabies may be diagnosed through blood and skin tests.

If you suspect that your cat has been bitten by an infected animal you need to visit the vet and get a vaccine immediately. Check if the other animal has been vaccinated.

Unfortunately, cats with rabies may die in the majority of cases as there is no treatment for rabies. Some vets recommend euthanasia or isolation of the animal to prevent the infection of other animals or the owner.

Preventing Rabies

Rabies may be prevented with vaccines. The rabies vaccine should be administrated when the cat is 3 to 4 months old. An additional vaccine should be given when the cat is 1 year old. The following year the cat may get a three-year vaccine.

Rabies is a serious virus that may be fatal and may affect humans also. This is why the rabies vaccine is important for the pet. People that get bitten by an infected animal should get a vaccination and a globulin shot, which is an antibody that will prevent the infection.