California is one of twenty-three states that does not require a rabies vaccination for cats. This means that, unlike with dogs, it is entirely up to a cat’s owner to decide whether or not to vaccinate. Here is why it is always a good idea to vaccinate your cat for rabies.
A Serious Threat
Although it is rare, rabies is extremely dangerous. Once an animal is bitten, the disease is almost one-hundred percent fatal. It can take anywhere from ten days to a year for symptoms to arise following a bite. Rabies does not currently have a known cure and can only be diagnosed in deceased animals. In the United States, cats contract rabies more than any other domestic species.
An unvaccinated cat that has been potentially exposed to rabies must be either euthanized or strictly quarantined for several months. Meanwhile, a vaccinated cat that has been exposed is simply recommended a booster vaccination in the thirty days following a bite. Talk to your vet if you think your cat may already have been exposed to rabies.
Benefits of the Rabies Vaccine
Simply because the vaccine is not required does not mean that it is not preferred. Most veterinary organizations heavily recommend the vaccine, and many facilities will not accept cats into their care if they have not received it.
Owners of indoor-only cats may feel that their cat is protected from rabies. This is mostly true. However, many cats are tricky and unpredictable. It only takes an open window for your cat to escape. When they return, there is no way to know what other critters they may have come across on their adventure. A variety of wandering animals carry rabies, including foxes, raccoons, and other community cats and dogs. Even a brief departure from the home can be fatal to an unvaccinated cat.
Owners of cats that go outdoors should always stay up-to-date on rabies vaccines and boosters. However, the most effective way to prevent against rabies and other viral diseases is to keep your cat indoors.
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