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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 Little Rock 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.

Because of the serious threat that rabies poses to human health, most US states require that rabies-infected pets be euthanized. All mammals are capable of contracting rabies through the bite of an infected animal, which is why it's critical to protect your pet by keeping their rabies vaccinations 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.

Longer-lasting vaccines, as well as vaccines with fewer potential side effects, are typically much more expensive. Contact your veterinarian to find out which rabies vaccine they use for cats and how much your cat's vaccinations will cost. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best vaccination plan for your cat's health as well as your personal budget.

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. 

Because older non-adjuvant vaccines only lasted a year, yearly booster shots were necessary. Newer vaccines that require a single booster a year after the first vaccination, followed by boosters every three years after that, have been developed; however, these vaccines are significantly more expensive, so some veterinarians prefer to stick with the older vaccine technology. If you ask your veterinarian "how often should my cat get a rabies vaccine?" they will be able to tell you about the vaccination options they have and which schedule is best 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 Bowman Road Animal Clinic.

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 Little Rock 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

There is no need for rabies vaccination if a cat is kept indoors, despite what cat owners may believe. While it's true that you don't let your cat outside your house, the risk of it escaping or, worse, of a diseased bat or rodent getting inside your house is high enough to require that your cat be given protection.

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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Bowman Road Animal Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Little Rock companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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