Rabies in Cats: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Rabies is understood as a natural focal viral disease that is dangerous for all warm-blooded animals, including cats, and always ends in death. The disease is caused by the rabies neurovirus, which can be carried by any wild animals. In the urban environment, the main reservoirs of the virus are stray dogs and cats.

The causes of pathology

The name of the rabies virus (obsolete hydrophobia, hydrophobia) is derived from the Latin “rabies” — “demon”. This is explained by the fact that in ancient times it was believed that evil spirits enter into a living being, making it possessed.

The neurovirus is not stable in the external environment and persists only at temperatures below minus. When frozen, it remains active for up to 4 months. When boiling, it dies in 2 minutes, so to disinfect clothing that has been exposed to the saliva of an infected animal, it is enough to simply boil it.

The rabies virus enters the environment through the saliva of an infected individual. A deadly infection is transmitted to a cat through:

  1. Bites. This is the most common method of infection. First, infected saliva gets into the wound. Further, it moves from soft tissues to nerve fibers and actively develops.
  2. Abrasions, wounds. Even if the pet was not bitten, the virus may well enter its body through the affected area of the dermis along with the saliva of the virus carrier.
  3. Skin, mucous membranes. The virus also enters the body through intact skin due to the presence of microcracks on it.

In addition, a pet fuzzy can get infected by eating “prey”, for example, a mouse infected with the rabies virus.

The mechanism of action of the virus is as follows: from the bite site, it moves first to the spinal cord, causing its inflammation, then to the brain, affecting almost all its parts through the salivary glands. The rate of spread of the virus is approximately 3 mm/hour.

The main symptoms

Rabies has a pronounced clinical picture. The main sign is drooling. Hydrophobia is not present in all cases, for example, in wild animals this symptom is absent.

The pet’s behavior changes. Affectionate and friendly cat suddenly turns into an aggressor, attacking the owner from a height, or pouncing on a sleeping person.

For wild species, in contrast, is characterized by the expression of friendliness and a lack of caution. So, a squirrel or a Fox may well approach a person, but in no case should you stroke and even more so give yourself a lick to these cute animals, because they may well be infected.

Veterinarians distinguish three forms of rabies: violent, quiet, and atypical.

More often than others, the violent form is found. There are three stages in its course.

The first (prodromal) stage is characterized by the absence of obvious signs or their course in a melancholic form. However, irreversible changes have already occurred in the cat’s body, which, as a rule, do not attract the attention of the owner. The cat becomes apathetic, sedentary, tries to hide in a secluded place, away from noise and light.

After some time, the animal can notice characteristic movements of the jaws, as if it is catching flies. Further, the appetite is distorted: the pet is interested in items that are not included in the category of edible. At the end of the initial stage, the four-legged pet has salivation and vomiting.

The second stage (manic) signs of the disease are no longer in doubt. A cat rushes at people for no reason, bites, bites wood, stone, iron, and can break not only its teeth, but also its jaw. The animal tries to escape from home and if it succeeds, sometimes runs impressive distances — from 50 kilometers. On the way, a mad cat infects people and animals it meets. It is impossible to correct the behavior of the pet, it is no longer affected by any caresses or threats.

In the third stage, which is called depressive, due to paralysis of the larynx, the cat loses the ability to swallow water and food. If the paralysis extends to the limbs, then there is a violation of gait. At first, it is unstable, then the pet has to literally drag the pelvis on the ground. Then comes a coma, respiratory arrest, General exhaustion. The animal dies.

The silent form of rabies develops in a rapid form. The cat is in a depressed state, there is no aggression, but it quickly dies from progressive paralysis.

Finally, the third, atypical form of rabies is characterized by a subacute course of the disease. It is extremely rare. It is noteworthy that in veterinary medicine there are known cases of cure from this form.

You need to understand that rabies is a dangerous disease that poses a threat not only to Pets, but also to people. If you notice suspicious signs, you should immediately contact your veterinarian!

Diagnostics in the veterinary clinic

It is impossible to refute or confirm the diagnosis of “rabies” during the animal’s lifetime. A veterinary passport with marks on timely vaccinations against rabies will serve as the only protection against unforeseen situations.

Diagnosis of rabies is possible only postmortem, by examining histological preparations of the brain. An indisputable proof of the presence of the virus in the body is the Babesh-Negri corpuscles — specific inclusions in nerve cells.

Treatment method and prognosis

Currently, no treatment for rabies has been developed. Even if you contact a veterinary clinic in a timely manner, you will not be able to save your pet. As a rule, most infected cats die from rabies within 10 days.

There are no drugs that can save the animal from further inevitable torment, and the people around it and other animals from infection with a deadly virus. That is why the pet is put to sleep. This decision is considered humane.

In humans, rabies is also not curable, but timely annual vaccination of animals keeps the virus from spreading and prevents the development of the disease.

What to do at home

If it is suspected that the cat has contracted rabies, the animal is isolated in a separate room, preferably in a special box for transportation. You can not allow the cat to freely contact people and other Pets, and continue to freely visit the street. It is forbidden to take care of a sick pet yourself — so you are at great risk!

You should immediately inform the veterinary clinic where the cat will be quarantined. If the cat has bitten or scratched someone at home, it is mandatory to wash the wound with hot water (the pressure should be strong) with household soap. The alkaline environment contributes to the destruction of the rabies virus. Then you need to go to the emergency room for medical care and vaccination.


Rabies refers to zooanthroponoses, that is, to diseases transmitted from animals to humans. At risk are people with weakened immune systems, AIDS patients, diabetics, patients with malignant tumors and transplanted organs.

Preventive measures

The only way to protect your four-legged pet from rabies is mandatory vaccination. The vaccine is put in 3-6 months, then — in 8 months, then — annually. The vaccination is valid for 1 year.

At the same time, not only the fact of vaccination is important, you need to record the vaccination in the veterinary passport. Without this mark, the pet can not be transported, it can not participate in official breeding and exhibitions, in addition, it can simply refuse veterinary care.

Before you put an attenuated rabies rabies vaccine, the pet must be treated for parasites (2 weeks before vaccination).

Modern anti-rabies vaccines used in the Russian Federation are well tolerated by animals and do not produce such effects. The most common drugs include Leucocephalon, Rabies, Rabican, Kvadriket. Cats whose owners plan to export from Russia abroad, is vaccine Nobivac.

If a vaccinated kitten is bitten by a sick cat, it is re-vaccinated and quarantined. The infection is transmitted even among vaccinated animals and can also be dangerous. During isolation, the state of health is monitored, and after a certain period of time, if no alarming symptoms appear, the animal can be discharged home.

If your pet visits the street, after each return home, it should be carefully examined for scratches, bites, and wounds. If they are found, you should immediately take the animal to a veterinary clinic.

Other preventive measures against rabies include measures taken by the veterinary service. First of all, employees of state institutions control wild animals, vaccinate against rabies individuals living in the forest.