Feline rabies has been documented as far back as 2300 B.C. in Ancient Egypt. Cats are curious creatures and sometimes encounter raccoons, possums, skunks, or bats while out on their evening stroll. When these wild animals feel threatened by our curious kitties, they may potentially give our furry friends rabies. Rabies is most easily contracted by being bitten by an animal carrying the virus, however, a bite isn’t always necessary. Rabies can spread if the saliva from a rabies-infected animal gets into the cut or wound of an uninfected animal. In rare cases, it is even possible for the rabies infected saliva to enter the body of a non-infected animal through the cornea of the eye.
Cats have a three times greater chance of rabies exposure than dogs.
It is thought that about 36% of pet cats don’t see their veterinarian at least once a year. Some may go many years without being seen by a vet. Not going to the vet means not getting vaccinated.
Rabies can affect most mammals. It can take anywhere from days to months to start showing clinical signs. Rabies almost always leads to death. Forty-thousand people get rabies shots every year after being potentially exposed. Ninety percent of reported rabies cases are from wildlife, but that leaves 10% that isn’t wildlife, which means our pets.
Furthermore, if an animal is potentially exposed to rabies, it can be very costly to confirm the absence of the virus. Animals must be quarantined for 30 - 180 days (depending on the vaccine status of the pet) at the owner’s expense, while veterinarians monitor for signs of rabies. If the owner cannot afford the quarantine, then the animal must be euthanized. It’s easy to see why it’s important to vaccinate our cats against rabies.
We often get asked the question, “Why do you only carry a one-year feline rabies vaccine and not the three year?”
Since cats are less likely to be seen on an annual basis, and many people want to vaccinate as little as possible, especially knowing that vaccines have been linked to sarcomas leading to amputations and worse... it’s easy for one to think that vaccinating every three years would be better than annually. But this is untrue.
The three-year feline rabies vaccine contains an adjuvant. An adjuvant is something added to the vaccine that is used to enhance the immune system’s response to the vaccine. Studies show that vaccines containing an adjuvant are much more likely to cause chronic inflammation and vaccine injection site related sarcomas.
The one-year PureVax Rabies vaccine that our hospitals carry does not include an adjuvant.
It is the only feline rabies vaccine available in the United States that does not carry an adjuvant. Although it does not have an adjuvant, it is still extremely effective. It induces cell-mediated immunity and humoral (antibody) responses, and it quickly takes effect. It is also safe for kittens as young as 12 weeks. This vaccine is recommended to be given every year.
We want to protect you and your cats from rabies, which is why we carry the Merial PureVax Feline Rabies vaccine.
Please call your nearest hospital if you have any questions about Feline Rabies or the PureVax vaccine.
By Kelly Sellen, RVT at Groveway Veterinary Hospital
This blog was edited and published on Angie's List in November 2016 - click here to read more!