Many people get nervous when they think about dogs, but few feel as uncomfortable around cats. This is totally normal! Cats are natural predators, so it makes sense that they make some of us uneasy.
That’s why it’s important to be aware of how to tell if a cat might have rabies. If you ever encounter a stray or homeless animal, there are several clues that can help determine whether this is a potentially dangerous situation.
It’s also very helpful to know what to do in case your cat gets into an altercation with another animal. Since most rabies cases occur through contact with saliva, knowing how to prevent such encounters is crucial.
Fortunately, these strategies can easily be done at home. Fortunately for all of us, rabies has never been the top health concern it used to be. Because of this, many veterinarians now rely more heavily on early diagnosis than before.
So staying informed is not only prudent, but necessary too. Thankfully, we can always turn to Healthline for smart tips and info. So let’s start learning by reading our article today! Read on to learn more about how to identify if a cat may have rabies.
Look for the virus
If you find out that your cat has rabies, it can be very difficult to know whether or not to put it down. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to determine if your cat is infected with this deadly disease.
One of the first things doctors do before putting down an animal is perform a head-to-toe examination. This includes looking in their mouth, under their tongue, checking their eyes, ears, paws and fur for any abnormalities such as red blotches or swelling.
If one of these symptoms is present, then unfortunately, the doctor will have to proceed with administering euthanasia medication. However, at least your beloved pet will no longer suffer from the painful effects of rabies.
Another way to tell if your cat has rabies is by performing a direct test. A saliva sample can easily be gathered using a sterile swab stick. After collecting the sample, the laboratory can confirm whether or not the virus is present by doing either a fluorescent antibody stain (FA) test or PCR testing.
It is important to note that even if FA or PCR tests come back negative, that does NOT mean your cat is free of the rabies vaccine! Only two doses of the rabies vaccine completely protect against the rabies infection.
Ask the cat about symptoms
If you think your dog has rabies, then it is important to look for signs in the nearby area where they live. Fortunately, there are some clues that can help determine whether or not your pet does have rabies.
One of these is if your animal interacts with any other animals around it who seem sick or abnormal. For example, if a friend comes back and says their dog has been acting strangely or seems aggressive towards them, this could be an indicator that their own dog might as well.
It’s also important to know which season it is. During spring and summer, many dogs will develop a persistent wet nose due to heat exhaustion. This usually goes away within a few days. A similar thing happens during winter when their coat gets dry and flaky.
This isn’t necessarily indicative of anything, but it is something to watch out for because rabies cannot be treated once it has begun.
Ask the cat about the virus
If you think your cat may have rabies, then one of the first things you should do is ask it if it has ever been exposed to this disease.
If your cat seems nervous or scared when you try to touch its nose, mouth, or eyes, that could be because it knows it has rabies and is trying to protect itself.
However, it is very important to know that most cats never actually develop rabies. Only 1 in 10,000 cats will get infected with rabits so chances are good that even though your cat appears sick, it does not have rabies.
It is also important to note that although some strains of rabits can cause death for humans, only 0.5% of rabid animals die from their infection.
Recent developments in veterinary medicine have allowed for better ways to determine if a cat has rabies. You can do some reading and research about diagnostic testing for rabies yourself, but here are some things you should know about this important test.
Most rabies tests require just a small amount of saliva or blood. These samples are then analyzed in a laboratory using immunoassays (tests that check for specific antibodies in the sample).
A few days after getting the sample, the technician will receive results indicating whether or not there is an antibody response in the sample. It’s very important to remember that even though there may be a positive result for rabies, that does NOT mean that the animal definitely has the disease!
Furthermore, it is possible to get false positives when animals such as dogs or cats are exposed to other diseases that cause antirabic antibodies to appear.
It is crucial to note that even if a dog or cat is determined to have no signs of rabies, that DOES NOT guarantee they are safe from human exposure. Only two weeks can pass between exposure to the virus and symptoms appearing, so it is still imperative to avoid contact with the animal.
Vaccinate your cat
It is important to be aware of rabies in cats. Although not as common as dogs, it still happens more than you might think!
Rabies can only be transmitted through contact with an infected animal’s saliva or nasal secretions (via biting or licking). This includes situations where a stray cat comes into close proximity with a dog.
It also can happen when a kitten nurses from its mother or eats food contaminated by bat or raccoon feces.
Since there are no symptoms until later stages of infection, most animals that get rabies eventually develop aggressive behaviors and die. Therefore, it is very important for owners to prevent potential exposure.
Luckily, vaccination is one of the best ways to protect your cat against this disease. Certain vaccines will immediately cause the immune system to produce antibodies that help defend your pet against viral infections.
More information about rabies prevention for cats can be found at your local veterinary clinic, online resources, and/or through our website here at The Humane Society of the United States.
Teach your kids
As we mentioned earlier, even if your cat does not seem rabid, there is no guarantee that it never will be. If you ever have suspicions or are certain that your cat has rabies, then the first thing you should do is call your town’s animal control department.
You can also visit your local veterinary clinic to see whether they know anything about this disease. Veterinarians are trained in diagnosing diseases like rabies, so by going into their office you will know what to look for.
If a vet diagnoses your cat as having rabies, he or she will tell you how to properly care for it. They may give you information and tips about where to take your cat to get proper treatment.
Stay aware of your cat
If you notice your cat acting nervous or fearful, or if it suddenly seems reluctant to be close to other animals, dogs included, take extra care with it.
It is important to note that even if your pet does not show any symptoms of rabies, they can still pass along the disease to others.
This could happen through direct contact or via saliva exposure when your pet bites someone else’s animal.
Tell your kids
It’s very important that children know how to identify potential rabies exposures in order to protect themselves and others. Luckily, there are some simple ways to do this!
First things first, make sure their parents/guardians already have proof of vaccination for dogs. Most municipalities require at least one vaccine for puppies under 4 months old and another for older dogs.
Next, they should be aware of the different symptoms of exposure to a dog or cat with possible rabies. These include fever, irritability, aggression, tremors, excessive drooling, loss of appetite, trouble breathing, diarrhea, and pain when opening the mouth or moving the jaw.
If a child comes across an animal that is acting strangely or seems injured, they should never handle it alone! Contact your parent(s) immediately, give them information about the animal, and let them know what you found out from veterinary staff.
Never try to put any part of an animal into its mouth as this could provoke infection or injury.