Rabies is a disease that scares me. It scares me because it’s a fatal disease. Very few animals that get rabies survive to tell about it. And people don’t fare much better. Even in the 21st century, rabies is a disease that remains more-or-less untreatable.
Now, I’m fortunate enough to be up-to-date on my vaccinations and live indoors. So rabies isn’t really much of a risk for me. But for many of my feline friends, that’s not the case. And a cat infected with rabies will not only die but may also expose people and other pets to the disease as well. Not a pretty picture! Very frightening if you ask me.
September 28 has been declared Rabies Awareness Day. So I think this is a perfect opportunity to talk about rabies. The fact is that, even though rabies is a serious and potentially fatal disease, preventing it isn’t really all that difficult. We have vaccines that are very effective in protecting cats against rabies and there are precautions that you, as a pet owner, can take to reduce your cat’s risk as well.
You may be wondering what exactly rabies is and how it can be passed to your cat. Here’s the scoop.
Rabies is a viral disease. It’s caused by a small virus called a rhabdovirus. The American Veterinary Medical Association video above will give you a lot more information about rabies and how it is spread.
What can you do to protect your cat from rabies?
- One of the most important things you can do is to make sure to keep your cat up-to-date on his or her vaccination. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) recommends rabies vaccines for all cats, even those that never go outdoors. In some communities, rabies vaccination is required by law as well. There are several different types of rabies vaccines available for cats. Some need to be repeated annually, some every three years. Your veterinarian will help you determine which is most appropriate for your cat. And, of course, cats need regular veterinary care anyway. These routine visits are the ideal time to ask your veterinarian about rabies vaccination and make sure your cat is protected.
- The second thing that you can do to help protect your cat is to limit your cat’s exposure to wildlife and other pets that may be carrying the rabies virus. Remember that kitty cam study? That study documented cats encountering wildlife such as skunks, raccoons, opposums and others. That is exactly the type of behavior that can put your cat at risk. Skunks, raccoons, fox, coyotes, bats and other wild mammals can expose your cat to rabies. So keep your cat safely indoors where there is little chance of this type of exposure.
That’s not so difficult, is it? Isn’t it worth keeping your cat safe from rabies?