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What to Know About the Rabies Vaccine for Cats

Rabies is an exceptionally dangerous virus that is fatal for cats and other pets, fortunately, it is entirely preventable. In today's post, our Poway vets explain the costs, scheduling, and side effects associated with getting your cat vaccinated against rabies.

How Rabies Spreads

In North America, the most common carriers of the rabies virus are skunks, bats, foxes, and raccoons.  

Since the virus is spread through saliva and causes heightened aggression in animals suffering from its effects, the most common way for cats to become infected with rabies is through the bite of an infected animal.

The majority of US states mandate that animals with rabies be put to sleep, due to the serious risk that it poses to human health. The ability of all mammals to contract rabies through the bite of an infected animal makes it crucial to protect your pet by making sure that their rabies vaccinations are always kept up to date.

The prognosis after catching rabies is not good for unvaccinated cats, for whom the infection is most often fatal. 

Cat Rabies Vaccine - Cost

The cost of rabies vaccination varies tremendously 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 determiner of cost.

Vaccines that are more effective for a longer period of time and have fewer potential side effects are typically much more expensive. Find out which rabies vaccine is used for cats and the exact cost of your cat's vaccinations by getting in touch with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best vaccination schedule based on your budget and your cat's health.

Cat Rabies Vaccine - Schedule

The schedule for your kitty's rabies vaccination will vary depending on the brand of vaccine used. 

Most vets offer vaccines without adjuvants - ingredients that proved effective in preventing rabies but caused an allergic reaction in some cats.  These vaccines may or may not be more expensive than vaccines with adjuvants, which are just as effective at preventing rabies but have a higher potential for causing rare side effects, depending on the individual veterinary practice and any existing state legislation on rabies vaccination in cats. 

An annual booster shot was necessary because older non-adjuvant vaccines only had a one-year shelf life. Although more recent vaccines have been developed, some veterinarians still prefer to use the older vaccine technology because they are significantly more expensive and only need to be given once a year after the initial vaccination, then every three years after that. Asking your veterinarian "how often should my cat get a rabies vaccine?" will enable them to explain the various vaccination options they have available and the ideal schedule 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 their routine vaccinations and other preventive care at Best Friends Veterinary Hospital.

Possible Cat Reaction to Rabies Vaccine

Cat owners frequently worry about potential side effects their cat might encounter after receiving a rabies vaccination. Pet owners occasionally visit our Poway veterinarians worried about rumors they have heard about "cats who have died from rabies vaccine," according to the vets. Thankfully, there is no basis for these worries. The most common side effects of the cat rabies vaccine are typically a mild fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, and/or a localized swelling at the injection site.

In some excessively rare cases, a cat can have an allergic reaction to the vaccine, leading to hives, extreme weakness, and unexplained collapse.  It's important for pet parents 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

If a cat lives indoors, its owner may believe that rabies vaccination is not necessary, but this is untrue. Although it may be true that you don't let your cat outside your house, the risk of escape—or worse, the entry of an infected bat or rodent—is high enough to require protection for your feline friend.

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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is it time to get your feline friend vaccinated against rabies? Contact us today to book a vaccination appointment for your cat.

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Best Friends Veterinary Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Poway companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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