Rabies in cats can and does occur, in fact, contrary to popular belief, cats are affected almost twice as much as dogs, according to the Center for Disease Control.
And to make it even worse, the reported number of cases is increasing.
What makes this infection so extremely dangerous is that the incubation period could be 3 to 4 weeks or it could take up to a year. If you are bitten by an infected cat, you may never know it.
There are no cures once your cat has become infected. The only way to prevent your cat from getting rabies from a wild animal is to have them vaccinated.
Vaccination for dogs is mandatory in all fifty states, but it is estimated that over fifty percent of all dogs are still not vaccinated.
Vaccination is not required in cats.
There are some very distinctive and inherent behavioral patterns that will cause your cat to become more exposed to this deadly disease.
By their nature, cats will share common habitats with the largest carriers of rabies; skunks, fox, and raccoons.
They will share places like barns, sheds, or other shelters in a peaceful coexistence, whereas dogs may encounter a skunk or raccoon once, and then learn to avoid them all together.
Cats are also more prone to this disease as they have a real tendency to roam and become infected by carriers of this virus. They are also natural hunters which put them more at risk.
Rabies in cats is almost always transmitted as a result of your cat being bitten by an animal that has the virus, although in very rare cases it has been airborne.
The rabies virus does not live long once it is outside of the host body, and will only live for about 24 hours in a dead animal.
It is spread by the saliva of the infected animal as the saliva has very high levels of the virus.
What is very important to understand, is that not all cats that are bitten by an infected animal will actually become infected themselves.
In fact, the number is less than twenty percent.
But if infected and not vaccinated, there is only one outcome.
There are also some other interesting facts about rabies in cats.
They do not have an independent rabies cycle, but rather what is referred to as a spill over cycle.
A rabies cycle occurs when animals can pass this infection between same species such as from dog to dog, but cats cannot infect other cats with rabies.
However, they can infect other animals, as well as humans.
Another very large misconception about how rabies is transmitted is with bats.
Bats are probably the highest carriers of the rabies virus, but there are several types of rabies, and bats have a much weaken form of the virus and very rarely infect any type of animal.
Most all cats that have become infected will become reclusive and they will have several very distinctive symptoms after the incubation period.
Incubation periods of this virus vary from short to extreme. Once infected, your cat’s nervous system is being attacked.
Complete infection could take 3 to 4 weeks, 3 to 4 months, or in some cases, it can take as long as a year.
If you suspect that your cat may be infected, watch very closely for the following symptoms.
The first symptoms will be a sudden reclusive behavior in a normally very friendly cat; followed by anxiety, stress and tension for no apparent reasons.
Drooling, convulsions that start out to be very mild, and muscle spasms will most likely develop very quickly after the initial symptoms.
Remember that you cat’s nervous system is being destroyed.
Your cat will also start to show an exaggerated sensation as well as a lot of pain where the bite actually occurred.
But the two largest warning symptoms to watch for will be a loss of feeling in parts of your cat’s body as well as a sudden difficulty in swallowing.
Drinking is actually causing spasms in your cat’s voice box.
There is no treatment--period.
Once diagnosed with rabies, the best thing you can do for your cat and for yourself and as hard as it may sound, is to have them put to sleep.
At this point you need to protect yourself, not your cat.
In fact, if a cat has been diagnosed with rabies, by law it has to be immediately reported.
Rabies in cats is growing, and the only prevention is getting them vaccinated.
Human rabies is very rare in the United States, but believe it or not, one person still dies from this virus every 10 minutes worldwide, it is still that serious.