Signs of rabies in cats
Viruses and bacteria are our invisible enemies, waiting for their prey on various surfaces or contained within the body.
Each of us knows how dangerous these microscopic organisms are once they get onto our skin or, even more dangerously, into our bloodstream. It is the same with animals, especially those living outside or in the wild.
One day you decide to take your beloved cat to the countryside, for example. Where wild animals are running around (especially if it is a wooded area) and including stray dogs. And you should be wary of their contact because there may be a fight over territory, where there is a huge risk of bodily harm – scratches, bites, abrasions, and even fatal cases.
But you should understand that even a small scratch from an unknown animal can cause signs of rabies in cats. Today, we will talk about this deadly rabies virus, which can threaten every warm-blooded creature.
What is the rabies virus and how common is rabies in cats?
Rabies has been written about since the Bible. This natural, viral disease has been known since ancient times. It was described by the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks, and we can read about rabies in the ancient sacred Indian Vedas.
The sacred writings described dangerous rabies that was found primarily in wild animals. But domestic animals could also contract the virus and infect their owners.
It is also worth mentioning another name, a synonym of this virus is hydrophilicity. This virus is dangerous in that it affects the central nervous system of the animal or human body.
Initially, the causative agent of rabies, a virus of the genus Lyssavirus (Rhabdoviridae), was common among wild foxes. But soon, even badgers, bats, rodents, wolves, jackals, raccoons, dogs, and cats also joined the number of animals that can transmit the pathogen through saliva or blood. Interestingly, the virus lives in the body and can be active even after several days after the death of the animal.
Although the virus is very toxic and almost always fatal, it is very weak to external influences. The virus is afraid of high temperatures, dies after boiling for 2 minutes, and burns when exposed to sunlight. It can survive at low temperatures for long periods. It can be concluded that the rabies virus cannot be contagious (for a long time) outside a living organism.
Also, the pathogen is killed by several chemicals – disinfectants, caustic soda, soapy water, formalin, and fat solvents.
Does my cat have rabies?
If you think your cat is safe from rabies that has never left your apartment in its life, you’re wrong.
There is no breed, size, or habitat (a bit of a planet) where the virus does not live (of course there are exceptions, such as Antarctica and the islands of Oceania).
There is still no cure that can get rid of the “fox” virus.
How long does it take for rabies to show in cats and how long can a cat live if it has rabies?
As we have said, the main source of the virus is the saliva and blood of an infected animal. Very rarely, animals and people can be infected by airborne droplets or through shared household items.
The virus enters the bite/injury site with saliva and begins to actively multiply in the muscle tissues (fibers). It then travels along the nerve fibers to the central nervous system and affects the brain causing encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). On its way to the brain, the virus also spreads through the nerve endings to the salivary glands, skin, all mucous membranes (larynx, sinuses), intestinal tract, and other organ groups.
Rabies in cats: incubation period. The incubation period depends on where the infected animal bites and how much saliva has reached the bite site. Usually, it is up to two months (9 to 52 days). Recall that the incubation period is when the rabies virus doesn’t manifest itself in any way before the first signs of rabies in cats appear.
Rabies symptoms in cats
Interesting fact – rabies in cats begins to appear less frequently and symptoms are more terrible than in dogs. So, how do you know if a cat has rabies?
- An infected cat will suddenly become overly agitated and restless.
- Pay attention to the “meowing” and the look (these are the most important indicators of rabies in a cat). The cat’s voice becomes husky and low, and the look is frightened and cautious.
- The pet will refuse food and avoid your company, contact with other people.
- After a few days, the pet will pounce on its owner and be aggressive.
- The excitement and aggression pass 1-2 days after the bite and another stage begins – paralysis. After that, the cat dies within 2-5 days.
Rabies in cats – symptoms, and treatments
If you notice any signs of rabies in your pet or strange bites/scratches after a walk, you should contact a veterinarian immediately. Self-treatment can be life-threatening for you and your pet.
And the most important question – can a cat get rabies after being vaccinated?
Unfortunately, if an animal is infected with this virus there is only one outcome: death. There is no cure. But if you vaccinate your pet the process of infection and death can be avoided.