The rabies virus is extremely dangerous for cats, but it is completely avoidable. Our Mechanicsburg veterinarians discuss the costs, timing, and side effects of rabies vaccination for your cat.
The Rabies Virus and How it Spreads
Rabies is a disease spread by wild animals such as skunks, foxes, and raccoons. Unvaccinated cats have a poor prognosis after contracting rabies, as the infection is often fatal.
Because of the ease with which the disease spreads through saliva, most states in the United States require pets diagnosed with Rabies to be put down. Because any mammal can contract rabies from a bite from an infected animal, it's critical to give your pet an anti-rabies vaccination.
Cat Rabies Vaccine Cost
The cost of rabies vaccination varies tremendously between different veterinarians, based in large part on what type of vaccine they use.
Longer-lasting vaccines, as well as vaccines with fewer potential side effects, are much more expensive; the best course of action is to inquire with your veterinarian about which rabies vaccine(s) they offer and at what price. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best vaccination plan for your cat's health and your budget.
Cat Rabies Vaccine Schedule
The rabies vaccination schedule for cats varies depending on the vaccine brand. Most veterinarians provide vaccines free of adjuvants, which were found to be effective in preventing rabies but caused allergic reactions in some cats. Depending on the individual veterinary practice and any existing state legislation on rabies vaccination in 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.
Older non-adjuvant vaccines only lasted for a year, and so yearly booster shots were required. Newer vaccines have been developed which require a single booster a year after the first vaccination, followed by boosters every three years after that; these vaccines are considerably more expensive, however, so some veterinarians opt to stick with the older vaccine technology. If you ask your vet "how often should my cat have a rabies vaccine?" they will be able to tell you about what vaccination options they offer and what schedule is best for your cat.
Cats can begin their rabies vaccination treatment at 12 weeks old. If you haven't already, you can schedule your cat for all their routine vaccinations and other preventative care at Silver Springs Clinic.
Cat Reaction to Rabies Vaccine
Cat owners often have concerns about the cat rabies vaccine having side effects. They will tell our Mechanicsburg vets that they don't want to have to tell their family that their "cat died from rabies vaccine". Fortunately, these fears are unfounded. Side effects are rare and typically include only slight fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, and/or a localized swelling at the vaccine site.
A cat can have an allergic reaction to the vaccine in extremely rare cases, resulting in hives, extreme weakness, and unexplained collapse. It should be noted that modern rabies vaccines cause allergic reactions in less than 0.001% of cats. Getting your cat vaccinated is always preferable to taking a chance on rabies infection in the future.
Indoor Cats and Rabies Vaccination
If your cat is an indoor cat, you might think that rabies vaccination isn't necessary, but this isn't the case. While it's true that you don't let your cat outside, the risk of escape—or worse, an infected bat or rodent breaking into your home—is significant enough to warrant your feline companion's protection.
The consequences of rabies are too dire to take any chances with, the best and only way to ensure your cat is completely protected against rabies is vaccination.