Annual Cat Vaccines: A Look at Rabies ?

By Beth Crosby
If you have an inside cat, you know you should maintain annual vaccines, regardless of whether the cat goes out. If you have outside cats, both core and non-core vaccines are critical.

Annual feline vaccines are divided into core and non-core. Core cat vaccines include Rabies, Feline Distemper (FVRCP), Feline Herpesvirus, and Calicivirus and are required for all felines Non-core vaccines are recommended if your cat’s lifestyle necessitates them.

Some viruses are recognized by cat owners, but what is calicivirus? And why does your cat need the non-core vaccines, Bordetella or Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)? We will answer those questions in the next several blog posts.

Cats can contract and transmit rabies

The focus today is on transmission and symptoms of rabies in felines.

The rabies vaccination is a core vaccine required in all states. No cure is available for rabies in any mammal. Cats die from progressive paralysis caused by the virus or must be euthanized if symptomatic or known to be infected. No detection is available for live animals, so tests are performed after death.

Cats most frequently infected

In the United States, rabies has been reported in cats more than any domestic species since 1988. Rabies is most often transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, and cats are susceptible to the virus especially from wild animals. Feral cat populations often host the rabies virus and keep transmission active.

If your cat is vaccinated, it will neither get the virus nor transmit rabies to humans through its bite.
Rabies is painful to the animal and painful to watch (

ANY transmission of the infected animal’s saliva to mucous membranes or open wounds can spread the virus. So humans who have any thought that the animal they are handling has been infected should wear protective gloves and ensure no contact with the potentially rabid animal. Also beware that noises can cause the animal to scratch or claw, along with other neurological disorders caused by the virus.

Cats can carry the latent virus?

Symptoms can appear within a week or remain undetected for up to a year after exposure. But soon after the virus becomes active, symptoms appear and rabies kills cats within a day or two.

Symptoms increase

Most people think of animals suddenly becoming aggressive and foaming at the mouth if they are rabid. Wild animals that are not afraid of humans or nocturnal animals that appear during the day might also be rabid.

Cat rabies symptoms can involve aggression or restlessness and lethargy accompanied by muscle tremors, fever, weakness or uncoordinated movement. Symptoms also include increased vocalization, loss of appetite, weakness, disorientation, paralysis, seizures and even sudden death, according to The American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Rabies is 100% fatal to cats?

Changes in behavior are obvious, but much more happens inside the animal’s body. Imagine the pain if a cat yowls or the fear when it becomes paralyzed. The virus attacks the brain and spinal cord, so disorientation and weakness likely make them fearful. The cat dies from progressive paralysis in both the classic “mad-dog” syndrome, which also affects cats, and the paralytic form.

The less common paralytic form of rabies affects the throat and jaw muscles and often causes excessive salivation and the inability to swallow. Human infection can occur when examining the cat’s mouth or giving medication with bare hands. Paralysis kills the cat within a few hours when this form strikes.

Cats that are vaccinated will not get or transmit the rabies virus. Kittens need initial shots and boosters. Initial adult rabies vaccines last for a year but can generally be followed-up with a three-year shot. State laws dictate when vaccines are required. Keep copies of your vaccination records, both in case your cat bites someone and if you need pet care.

Purrfect Paradise Hotel ( requires boarding cats to be vaccinated against rabies and FVRCP (feline distemper).

At Fluffs of Luv, your pet’s care and comfort is our primary concern. We are extremely careful not to spread illness from one pet to the other, so we require all pets to be vaccinated annually. Call us or visit today to schedule visits now and for holidays.


? – This link provides a useful chart of core and non-core vaccines.


rabies vaccination


cat rabies symptoms