Rabies is a particularly dangerous virus for cats; fortunately, it is completely preventable. Our Beacon veterinarians discuss the costs, scheduling, and possible side effects of vaccinating your cat against rabies.
The Rabies Virus and How it Spreads
Rabies is a disease that is most frequently encountered in wild animals such as skunks, foxes, and raccoons. The prognosis for unvaccinated cats after contracting rabies is poor, as the infection is frequently fatal.
The virus causes increased aggression in animals suffering from its effects, and most states in the United States require that pets diagnosed with Rabies be euthanized due to the disease's ease of spread via saliva. Because all mammals are susceptible to contracting rabies through the bite of an infected animal, it is critical to vaccinate your pet against rabies.
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 possible side effects, are significantly more expensive—the best course of action is to inquire with your veterinarian about which rabies vaccine(s) they offer and at what cost. Your veterinarian can advise you on the vaccination schedule that is most appropriate for your cat's health and your budget.
Cat Rabies Vaccine Schedule
Rabies vaccination schedules for cats vary according to the brand of vaccine used. The majority of veterinarians offer vaccines without adjuvants, which were effective at preventing rabies but caused allergic reactions in some cats. These vaccines may or may not be more expensive than vaccines with adjuvants, which are equally effective at preventing rabies but have a higher risk of causing rare side effects, depending on the veterinarian's practice and any applicable state legislation regarding rabies vaccination in cats.
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 The Beacon Veterinary Associates.
Cat Reaction to Rabies Vaccine
Cat owners often have concerns about the cat rabies vaccine having side effects. They will tell our Beacon 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.
In extremely rare instances, a cat may develop an allergic reaction to the vaccine, manifesting as hives, severe weakness, and unexplained collapse. It should be noted that less than 0.001% of cats will experience allergic reactions to modern rabies vaccines. It is always safer to have your cat vaccinated than to take a chance on a future rabies infection.
Indoor Cats and Rabies Vaccination
Cat owners may believe that rabies vaccination is unnecessary if their cat lives indoors, but this is not the case. While you may not allow your cat outside your home, the risk of escape—or worse, of an infected bat or rodent breaking into your home—is significant enough to warrant protection for your feline companion.
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.