What is rabies?
The state of Massachusetts requires that all cats are vaccinated against the rabies virus by a licensed veterinarian. Rabies is a virus of the central nervous system and is almost always fatal. It is spread through the saliva of the infected animal. All animals are susceptible to catching rabies usually through bite wounds although it is usually carnivorous animals test positive for rabies. Smaller rodents usually do not test positive most likely because they don’t live through the initial skirmish with the rabid animal. Bats are also known to carry rabies and are the highest cause of human rabies in the U.S.
Indoor Cats and Rabies
So if a cat never leaves the house, why does the state of Massachusetts require the vaccine? There are several reasons but here is the most frightening. Imaging waking up and finding a dead bat with YOUR unvaccinated cat hovering over it. Did my cat kill that bat? Did the bat die from rabies? Did the bat bite my cat? Did the bat bite me?!?!? These are frantic calls that the Cat Clinic of Plymouth and I am sure many other animal hospitals all too frequently.
Usually, home owners are completely unaware that bats are getting into their home until one dies. This becomes a terrible dilemma as the recommendations from not only the state of Massachusetts but also the Center for Disease Control are to euthanize any unvaccinated animal that has come in contact with either an animal testing positive for rabies or any known carrier unavailable for testing. They’re asking you to euthanize your beloved feline fur baby. Why would anyone take that chance?
And if you decline to euthanize your cat and your cat becomes exposed, you are required to quarantine them from the rest of the household for 45 days! This is to protect you and the rest of your family from being exposed to rabies, a disease that kills 99.9% of its victims!
So I guess I understand why the state requires veterinarians to vaccinate ALL cats regardless of how they are housed. For a relatively inexpensive, safe and easy assurance against a deadly disease – and doesn’t sound like a fun death, I make sure all my pets are vaccinated against rabies.
Check out the blog on stress free veterinary visits.
NEXT – how safe are rabies vaccines?