Everyone has heard about dogs having rabies and understand the importance of steering clear of a canine that may be infected with the fatal disease, but many are not aware that cats can suffer from the condition as well. As such, it is important to know how to recognize the signs of rabies and what you should do if you suspect that your cat may be suffering from this condition.
Recognizing Rabies in Your Cat
Recognizing the signs of rabies in a cat is very much the same as recognizing the signs in a dog. Some of the signs include:
Unusual mental state
In order to better understand these signs of rabies, it is important to understand how the disease manifests itself in the feline's body. In short, the virus attacks the cat's nervous system - or the nervous system of warm-blooded animal that contracts the disease - and ultimately attacks the spinal cord and then the brain. Once the virus has reached the brain, the signs of the disease begin to develop. If the virus is caught before it reaches the brain, it is possible to cure your cat or any other animal that becomes infected. It can take about two weeks to up to a full month before the virus reaches the brain. After it reaches the brain, however, it generally takes about 10 days for death to occur.
Rabies can be transmitted in a few different ways, but the most common means of transmission is through bite wounds. In order to reduce the chances of transmitting the disease, every state has laws requiring the administration of rabies vaccinations. Although the exact guidelines may differ from state to state, all require the first vaccination to be given when cats are around 24 to 26 weeks old. A booster injection should then be given about one year later. Some states then require vaccinations to be given once per year, while others may permit the vaccinations to be given once every three years.
Regardless of state laws, it is essential for you to be certain to vaccinate your cat for this disease. With the help of the vaccination, your cat can effectively fight off the virus if it becomes infected. It should be noted, however, that the vaccination is not a "cure" for the disease and that animals that have been vaccinated can still become infected with rabies. In addition, it takes about one month after the vaccination has been given before the antibodies reach their peak and can effectively protect your pet from the disease. Therefore, it is still important for you to take additional steps to prevent your pet from becoming sick with the virus, including keeping it indoors if possible and keeping it away from other animals that may be infected.
When your pet is vaccinated for rabies, it is important to hang onto the paperwork showing that it is up-to-date with the vaccine. This way, if your pet does bite another animal or a human, you will have proof that your pet has been vaccinated. Not only will this help your victim feel relieved, it will also prevent the possibility of having to put your pet to sleep in order to determine if it is infected with the disease.