Rabies in Cats (cont.)

How Is Rabies Diagnosed?

There is no accurate test to diagnose rabies in live animals. The direct fluorescent antibody test is the most accurate test for diagnosis, but it can only be performed after the death of the animal. The rabies virus can incubate in a cat's body anywhere from just one week to more than a year before becoming active. When the virus does become active, symptoms appear quickly.

How Is Rabies Treated?

There is no treatment or cure for rabies once symptoms appear. The disease results in fatality.

How Can Rabies Be Prevented?

Vaccination is the key-and in most areas of the country, it's the law. All companion felines should be kept regularly vaccinated by a veterinarian with a licensed rabies vaccine. You'll need to discuss the revaccination schedule with your veterinarian, as it will depend on local or state laws and the duration of the vaccine's immunity.

Vaccinating your cat doesn't just protect her from rabies-it also protects your cat if she bites someone. Some local ordinances require lengthy quarantines-or euthanasia-of pets who have bitten someone if the owner does not have proof of current vaccination.

To further reduce the chances of your cat becoming infected with the rabies virus, ASPCA experts recommend keeping your pet indoors.

What Should I Do If I Think My Cat Has Had Contact with a Rabid Animal?

Put on some gloves to protect yourself from infection, and call your veterinarian for an immediate appointment! You'll also need to contact local animal control officers if the animal who bit your pet is still at large; they will be best able to safely apprehend and remove the animal from the environment.

A cat who is up to date with his vaccinations and who has been bitten by a possibly rabid animal should also be given a rabies booster vaccine immediately and kept under observation for 45 days.