Three Things You Need To Know About Outdoor Cats And Rabies

Posted on: 2 November 2016

Cats that live indoors can get depressed or bored due to a lack of stimulation, but outdoor life also has its hazards. While outdoor cats get to run, play, and hunt prey, their fun life may bring them into contact with wild animals, which can carry diseases like rabies. Here are three things you need to know about outdoor cats and rabies.

How do outdoor cats get rabies?

When outdoor cats roam freely around the neighborhood, they may encounter a variety of wild animals. Raccoons are well-known carriers of rabbies, but skunks, foxes, and coyotes are also common carriers for this deadly viral disease. It's also possible for small rodents that your cat may want to hunt, like squirrels or mice, to have rabies.

Rabies spreads through saliva. If your cat gets bitten by a wild animal that has the disease—which could happen if they get in a fight with a raccoon or are attacked by a coyote—they could become infected. They could also contract the virus from other outdoor cats, if those cats are infected.

What are the signs of rabies?

The symptoms of rabies can take a long time to appear in cats. In fact, the symptoms may not appear for months after the initial exposure. However, once symptoms appear, rabies is almost fatal. If your outdoor cat comes home with bite marks or scratches on their body, assume that they've been exposed to rabies and take them to the vet immediately.

If your cat tends to disappear for longer periods of time, you may not notice that they were bitten. In those cases, you may notice that your cat is acting strange; they may be nervous, tired, or aggressive when they return home. Later, they become very aggressive and may try to bite you or other pets in your home. Cats in this latter stage are incredibly dangerous as they can pass rabies on to you or your other pets.

How can you protect your cat?

There is a vaccine available for rabies. Once the initial series of the injections have been completed, your cat will need a booster shot every three years. If your cat hasn't already received this crucial vaccine, take them to a vet to get vaccinated right away.

You may also want to build a cat run or cat patio in your backyard so that your cat can get a taste of outdoor life without its hazards. These are covered outdoor areas that keep wild animals from getting to your cat, but your cat is still able to run, play, and enjoy the fresh air.

If your cat roams free around the neighborhood, they may be at risk of getting rabies. For more information, contact companies like Animal House Veterinary Hospital.