Not only is the rabies virus deadly, it is, in fact, found all over the world and can affect cats, dogs, and other mammals, including humans.
Aside from the obvious, rabies is very dangerous because symptoms can take time to go away. They may not appear for a few months! That makes it harder to detect and cure.
The survival rate after symptoms of rabies-infected mammals is low, even though preventive medications are administered by veterinarians.
In other words, rabies is very dangerous and should not be taken lightly, it is also one of the diseases of cats that are transmitted to humans.
In this article I will show you how rabies can affect cats, its causes and treatment.
What is feline rabies in cats?
Rabies is a fatal viral disease . As I mentioned earlier, it can affect any mammal, including humans.
Rabies in cats is a common problem in many countries where there is feline overpopulation of feral cats.
The disease affects the animal’s brain and spinal cord , leading to a fatal outcome. The rabies virus is widespread throughout the world.
How does rabies affect cats?
Once the virus has entered the feline’s body, it begins to spread throughout its body. It attacks the central nervous system by spreading through the nearest nerve fibers.
This process can take a few days, weeks, or even months.
The rabies virus eventually affects the entire nervous system. As such, when the virus is activated, it causes confusion, disorientation, aggression, loss of appetite, erratic behavior, paralysis, and seizures.
If it is not cured, rabies symptoms will worsen, eventually leading to the death of the cat.
How is rabies spread to a cat?
Rabies can be transmitted through a bite or scratch wound, the exchange of blood or saliva from an infected animal , and very rarely through the inhalation of gases that escape from decaying animal carcasses.
Although the rabies virus generally travels through bite wounds, your cat can contract it from the saliva of a rabid animal. Scratches can also transmit the disease. As soon as your cat’s bloodstream, eyes, nose, or mouth come into contact with the virus, it will become infected.
Since the rabies virus causes unreasonable aggression, if your cat is around a rabid animal, the chances of an attack, scratch, or bite wound are extremely high.
Symptoms of Rabies in Cats
Each cat is unique in itself. With that in mind, symptoms may not appear even several months after the cat has been infected with the virus. However, it is also possible that your cat begins to experience symptoms only days after contracting the disease.
There are two forms of rage: paralyzed and furious . In the first stage with the early symptoms of rabies infection, the cat will only show slight abnormalities. This stage will last from one to three days. Most cats then progress to the rage stage, paralytic stage, or a combination of the two, while others will succumb to infection without showing any major symptoms.
This virus spreads rapidly. If it is not treated soon after symptoms have started, the outcome can be fatal. Therefore, if your cat has been in a fight with another animal, or has been bitten or scratched by another animal, or if you have any reason to suspect that it has been in contact with a rabid animal, you should take it to a veterinarian to receive immediate preventive care.
The most common symptoms of rabies in cats include:
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to swallow
- Loss of coordination
- Unexplained aggression and irritability.
- Lethargy and shyness.
- Excessive drooling
- Foamy saliva.
- Paralysis of the larynx, jaw or whole body.
Due to the fact that the infection spreads differently in each cat, some kittens will not experience most of the symptoms mentioned above.
The two types of rabies symptoms
Once the virus has spread through the cat’s central nervous system, the animal will enter a furious or paralytic stage.
Angry rage is characterized by extreme changes in behavior , including aggression and attacking behavior. Even the calmest, laziest, and friendliest cat can turn into an extremely aggressive animal ready to viciously attack anyone or anything that crosses its path. Arousal, irritability, and constant changes in the cat’s attitude and behavior are common in the rage stage.
In paralytic rabies, weakness and loss of coordination occur in the cat , followed by paralysis, cats may be partially or totally paralyzed. The symptoms are milder in terms of behavioral changes, but they are still an alarming indicator with a fatal outcome.
Some cats may have both types of rabies symptoms. However, some infected felines will not show any serious symptoms before it is too late.
As soon as you detect the slightest sign of rabies symptoms in your cat, you must act immediately. When symptoms start to appear, it means that the virus has already spread through your pet’s body. The kitten’s chances of surviving the disease are slim if the stage after the onset of symptoms begins.
What to do if your cat has rabies?
Now that we know how dangerous rabies is, it’s time to find out what you can do if you suspect that your cat has contracted the virus.
The important thing to remember is that rabies is a preventative disease.
Treatment options are available before and after exposure to the rabies virus. Rabies vaccines are available in all countries. They can be administered to your cat even if he has never been in contact with a rabies animal. In addition, there are also rabies booster shots, which can be given shortly after your cat has been bitten or scratched.
If you are trying to save money by not giving your cat a preventive rabies vaccine, you will actually increase your expenses. Also, once symptoms start to appear, it is likely too late to save an unvaccinated cat.
What to do after a bite or scratch from an angry animal?
As soon as your cat has been bitten or scratched you should take him to a vet . If your pet is up-to-date on its vaccinations, report it to the vet. If the cat has attacked you or another person, that person should also receive a vaccine.
You should wash the wound with warm soapy water to prevent bacterial infections, but it will not prevent the rabies virus from spreading. Also, because of the pain from the wound, your cat may not allow you to touch it.
Once the veterinarian has administered the vaccine, the bitten or scratched cat should be kept in quarantine . This means staying strictly indoors and staying away from all human or animal contact. The quarantine period usually lasts around 45 days, during which you should carefully monitor your cat for any symptoms of the virus.
How to prevent rabies in cats?
The easiest way to prevent rabies is to keep your cat controlled inside the home, thus limiting its contact with other animals. A bite or scratch takes just seconds.
Vaccinating your pet before a bite ensures its own safety, as well as the safety of the entire family.
There is no definitive test that can diagnose rabies in cats. If you have adopted a kitten from a shelter or from the street, you should get it vaccinated immediately.
Lastly, if you have a cat and a dog, treat the canine with the same safety measures that you would treat the cat. Limit your dog’s uncontrolled access to the outdoors and monitor him closely for injuries or unusual behavior changes. If your dog has contracted the rabies virus, it can easily be passed on to you or to your cat.
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