Rabies is one of the most well known extremely serious and contagious diseases found in animals. It is a disease that passes straight from animal to animal and also from animal to human beings. The central nervous system of almost all the warm blooded animals including cats is affected by the lyssa virus that causes rabies. Rabies mainly spread through bite of contaminated animals and to a minor extent by aerosol or transplacental infection and sometimes through intake of carrier animals. Though rabies in cats is rare, but every cat owner must know about the early signs of rabies in cats, as it helps a cat owner to take protective measures in the cat against rabies.
Early Signs of Rabies in Cats
Symptoms of rabies in cats are similar to the symptoms found in dogs, all the three typical signs i.e. prodromal, furious and dumb forms are displayed by the affected animals. The incubation period in cats differ from 2 to12 weeks and may be infrequently extended upto 4 years.
The cat may show following signs of rabies–
- The cat may growl loudly and bite all the objects found inside home.
- The cat may dash towards anything showing violent movements that may cause self injury.
- The cat’s leg may weaken causing in-coordinated movements.
- The cat may have Conjunctivitis and partial protrusion of tongue.
- The cat may not be able to move even after prodding and sway the hind quarters.
Cats that show these symptoms of rabies may die within 3 to 4 days, it is very important that you consult a vet immediately if your cats show any of these symptoms.
Diagnosis of Rabies in Cats
The diagnosis of rabies cab be done using various methods including, Clinical Signs and history, Histopathology of CNS, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) assay on skin biopsy, saliva and corneal impressions, Demonstration of Negri bodies in the impression smear of brain, Biological test by intracerebral vaccination of assumed brain material into mice and replica of the ailment.
Prevention and Control of Rabies in Cats
Most of the time cats love to move out-of-doors that increases the chances of infectivity when they come in contact with other domestic and undomesticated animals making it important to take proper steps to prevent cat rabies as it can spread from one animal to the other very easily. The best way to avoid cat rabies infection is by giving early vaccination. When cat is 8 to 10 weeks old, it should be given two dosages of rabies vaccine intramuscularly with one month interval and it should be revaccinated every year. If your cat has been in contact with an infected animal, you can have the cat vaccinated or treated with serum, You should also ensure that any wound on the cat is washed with water and soap immediately. Last but not the least the stray animals infected by rabies should be kept away from your loveable pet cat. You should also inform local health department about stray animals found in your neighborhood. Remember not to handle the stray cat yourself as she may bite you and in turn you may catch the disease.