While rabies is an exceptionally dangerous virus that's fatal for cats and other pets, it is entirely preventable. Here, our Glendale vets discuss everything you need to know about the cat rabies vaccine, including costs, scheduling and side effects.
How Rabies Spreads
Skunks, foxes, bats, and raccoons are the most common carriers of the rabies virus in North America.
Since the virus is spread via saliva and causes increased aggression in animals suffering from its effects, the most common way cats become infected is through the bite of an infected animal.
Rabies also poses a severe risk to human health, so most US states require that pets diagnosed with rabies be euthanized. Because all mammals can catch rabies through the bite of an infected animal, it's extremely important to protect your pet by ensuring that their rabies vaccinations are always kept up to date.
For unvaccinated cats who catch rabies, the prognosis is not good, as the infection is most often fatal.
Cat Rabies Vaccine - Cost
The cost of rabies vaccination varies widely from city to city, state to state, and even from one vet to another in the same area. The type of rabies vaccine used is a key determinant of cost.
Vaccines that last longer, as well as vaccines with a smaller number of potential side effects, are usually much more expensive. Contact your vet to ask which rabies vaccine they use for cats and exactly how much your kitty's vaccinations will cost. Your vet can provide guidance on which vaccination plan is right for your cat's health and your budget.
Cat Rabies Vaccine - Schedule
The schedule for your feline friend's rabies vaccination will change depending on the brand of vaccine your vet administers.
Most vets offer vaccines without adjuvants - ingredients that have been proven to be effective in preventing rabies but that have caused an allergic reaction in some cats. These vaccines may or may not be more expensive than vaccines with adjuvants which prevent rabies just as effectively, but have a higher potential for causing rare side effects, depending on the individual veterinary practice and any current state legislation on rabies vaccination in cats.
Since older, non-adjuvant vaccines only lasted for one year, annual booster shots were required. Newer rabies vaccines for cats that require a single booster one year after the first vaccinations, followed by boosters every three years after that, have since been developed. These vaccines are significantly more expensive, however, so some vets choose to stick with the older vaccine technology.
Ask your vet, 'How often should my cat have a rabies vaccine?' and they will be able to tell you which vaccinations options they offer and what schedule is ideal for your cat.
Kittens should begin their rabies vaccination treatment at about 12 weeks old. If you haven't already, you can schedule your cat for all its routine vaccinations and other preventative care at Limehouse Veterinary Clinic.
Possible Cat Reaction to Rabies Vaccine
Cat owners often have concerns about the possible side effects their cats could experience following their rabies vaccination. Pet Parents sometimes come to our Glendale vets concerned about stories they have heard about "cats who have died from rabies vaccine". Fortunately, these fears are unfounded. Cat rabies vaccine side effects are rare and typically include only slight fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, and/or a localized swelling at the vaccine site.
In some excessively rare cases, a cat can have an allergic reaction to the vaccine, leading to hives, extreme weakness, and unexplained collapse. Pet parents need to know that fewer than 0.001% of cats will have allergic side effects to modern rabies vaccines. It is always safer to have your cat vaccinated against rabies than to risk potential infection in the future.
Why Your Indoor Cat Needs Their Rabies Vaccine
Cat owners might believe vaccination against rabies is unnecessary if their cat is an indoor cat, but this is not the case. While it might be true that you don't allow your cat outside your home, the potential for escape--or worse, for an infected bat or rodent to break into your home, is great enough to warrant protection for your feline companion.
The consequences of rabies are simply too dire to take any chances, the best and only way to ensure your cat is completely protected against rabies is vaccination.
It is also the case that in most US states all cats and dogs over the age of 6 months are required to be vaccinated against rabies. When you take your pet to be vaccinated your vet will be sure to issue you with a certificate of vaccination as proof that your feline friend is up to date with their rabies vaccine.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always follow your doctor's advice regarding asthma or other allergy symptoms.