Does My Cat Need a Rabies Shot
Rabies is a serious disease.
Because once the virus symptoms start, the disease is nearly always fatal in animals and there is no cure.
That is why prevention methods like the vaccine are essential.
And this is why most states and local governments in the U.S. require the vaccination of adult cats.
What is the Cat Rabies Vaccine
The feline vaccination introduces microorganisms into your kitty that will help her develop antibodies that help the body fight off the rabies virus.
The vaccine is administered by injection. After the initial shot, booster shots are given at regular intervals, usually yearly or every three years.
How is Rabies Transmitted?
Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal into another mammal — human or otherwise.
Infected animals are typically wild animals, such as bats, skunks, foxes or raccoons, or exposed domestic pets, such as wild dogs or feral cats.
It is rare, although not impossible, for there to be cases of non-bite exposure. It may happen through a scratch, abrasion or open wound that is contaminated with infected saliva.
Is the Feline Rabies Shot Important?
Cats are highly susceptible to this virus.
Their small lungs are less efficient at fighting virus particles. The virus can quickly travel from the lungs to the brain through their bloodstream.
The rabies virus is severe, it is predominantly fatal for unvaccinated pets.
And many communities require euthanasia for unvaccinated animals that have been exposed to a potentially rabid animal. That’s right, if your unvaccinated pet is bitten by a rabid animal, he will need to be put down.
There is No Easy Way to Diagnose Rabies in a Living Animal
It isn’t possible to successfully diagnose rabies in a living animal.
The test for diagnosing this virus requires two samples of brain tissue that can only be gotten during a postmortem procedure when the animal is dead.
Does My Indoor Cat Need the Rabies Shot
First, vaccinating cats over a certain age for rabies is a law in many areas.
Even if your cat never goes outdoors, it is possible they can be exposed.
Exposure can happen during the one time they escape out of your window. Or they could get out of their cage while you are taking them to the vet.
Or an infected bat may sneak into your home somehow. Your cat will chase it and try to catch it.
While these are all improbable situations, they can happen.
To ensure your kitty will never be at risk, you could get her vaccinated.
Plus, a vaccination protects your cat in case she happens to bite someone else. If she bites a child in the vet’s waiting room, you will want to be able to prove that your cat is not carrying the virus.
How Often Do Cats Need to Get a Rabies Vaccine?
In other words — how long does a vaccine last?
There are different brands of rabies vaccines for cats.
Traditionally, domestic pets were recommended to be vaccinated against rabies once each year.
While annual booster shots are still common, newer inoculations can reliably provide immunity for up to three years.
If your vet offers both options, it will be up to you to decide if you want the one-year or three-year shot. The three-year shot is more expensive.
The benefit of the annual shot is you will be bringing in your pet once a year and your vet will have a chance to briefly exam her each time. You can ask questions and your vet may notice something.
Situations When You Won’t Give the Renewal
If your cat has a significant health issue and you live someplace where vaccination for cats is mandatory, talk with your vet about receiving a waiver.
Only healthy cats should receive a shot.
What About Kittens?
A kitten will get her first shot somewhere between two and six months of age.
If you are obtaining your kitten from a shelter, she may have it before you even leave with her to go home.
And then you will bring her in in 12 months to get her first booster shot.
Cost of Feline Rabies Shot
How much does a cat rabies vaccine cost? Rabies vaccines are not cheap.
The cost will vary depending on the specific one used by your veterinarian.
The two major differences between vaccines are whether they contain an adjuvant or not and how many years they protect for.
Some vaccines contain materials called adjuvants, which act to initially boost the immune response to the vaccine. Adjuvants are added to purposely cause some inflammation at the inoculation site in order to announce the immune system to its presence.
Adjuvanted vaccines are less expensive than non-adjuvanted vaccines. And three-year shots are more expensive than one-year shots.
It is generally accepted that a non-adjuvanted vaccine is preferred over an adjuvanted one for most cats. But it will be more expensive.
Side Effects of the Feline Rabies Shot
A reaction to this vaccine is very uncommon.
In rare situations when side effects happen, they might include swelling at the shot site, slight fever, lethargy or decreased appetite.
These side effects usually disappear within a few days.
In extremely rare situations (one in one thousand), a cat may show an allergic reaction. This could include hives, itching, swelling around the face or lethargic movements.
Cats that go outside are at risk for contracting rabies. They definitely need to receive the initial shot and every required booster too.
Even strictly indoor cats have a slight risk of being exposed too. Plus, if your indoor cat bites someone, you will want to be able to prove that he is vaccinated.
Many states and municipalities mandate that cats over a certain age must be vaccinated.
We recommend you have your pet vaccinated initially. After that, you should get them the booster shot at regular intervals unless they have an existing health problem or you really can’t afford the cost.
We know it can be inconvenient and nobody likes to spend money, but not doing it can be too risky for most pet owners.
NOTE: Any content in this article is not to be considered professional or veterinarian or medical advice. This article is strictly for general information only. We are not suggesting any advice for you and your pet. Be sure to consult with a professional veterinarian before deciding on any medical treatment option.