Rabies in Cats - Symptoms, Diagnose & Prevention

Rabies in Cats - Symptoms, Diagnose & Prevention

Author WCF Staff


Rabies is a widely known dangerous disease affecting different species, including humans, dogs, and even cats. Although it may seem strange, cats are the most infected animals with rabies. This very severe and dangerous virus can be fatal for your cat. It is highly transmissible and instantly attacks the nervous system of an infected cat. It is essential that you vaccinate your cat to provide protection for her.

What is rabies in cats?

Rabies in cats is an infection that will attack your cat's nervous system; most specifically, it will attack the brain and spinal cord. Since this disease is mainly found in cats, cats must receive a rabies vaccination. This disease can be fatal if left untreated, but it can be prevented with a proper vaccine.

How is transmitted?

The most common way of spreading this disease is by biting. If the infected cat bite, the virus can be spread. In some cases, rabies could also be spread with the infected cat's saliva.

Cats are mostly infected with this virus since they mostly roam around and walk freely compared to dogs.

RELATED: FIV in Cats: Infection, Treatment & Prevention

Rabies in cats – signs and symptoms

Symptoms of rabies in cats' can take even a whole year to appear. It all depends on the bite location and severity of the bite. The closer the bite is to the brain and spinal cord, the faster will symptoms appear. The severity of this bite will also affect the infection.

stray cat

Symptoms of rabies in cats include:

  • Behavior changes
  • Seizures
  • Appetite loss
  • Paralysis
  • Uncontrolled drooling
  • Lethargy
  • General weakness

Rabies in cats will progress in three different phases after the cat shows the first symptoms, and they include:

Prodromal phase – occurs first two to three days of symptoms

  • Personality changes
  • Calm cats can become aggressive
  • Friendly cants can become shy
  • Cats may exhibit licking and scratching of the infected area

The furious phase – happens in the next one to seven days

  • Cats could start to hallucinate
  • Rise of nervousness
  • More extreme behavior changes
  • Agitated and restless
  • Aggression for no apparent reason

Paralytic stage – happens in the final two to four days

  • Completely weak and paralysis
  • Cats start to drool a lot and are unable to swallow
  • When the muscles that control the breathing become paralyzed, death will occur.

Many cat owners usually replace early symptoms of rabies with different diseases and don't know that their cat has rabies. However, the most efficient way to determine if a cat is infected with rabies is to test the brain after the animal has the disease.

orange kitten

IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER: After the bite occurs, the incubation period could be months, but after the cat develops symptoms, she will die within 10 days.


Unfortunately, currently, there is no good way of diagnosing this disease. The only efficient way is to test the brain tissue of the deceased cat. If you and your vet suspect that your cat may be infected, there are some things you can do.

If your cat already showed signs and symptoms of rabies, your vet will suggest humane euthanasia for your cat.

If a cat bites a person or other animal and you are not sure whether she is vaccinated, that cat should be quarantined for 10 days because the cat can only transmit this disease if she shows rabies. If, after 10 days, the cat is not showing any signs of rabies, she didn't transmit the disease.

RELATED: Distemper in Cats: Symptoms, Treatment & Prognosis

Rabies in cats' treatment

Currently, there are no efficient treatments for rabies in cats. If you suspect that your cat could develop rabies because she has been bitten by another cat, there are some things you can do.

  • Vaccine – The vet can prescribe rabies vaccines for cats that may have been exposed to the virus.
  • Booster – if your cat already has a rabies vaccine, your vet could prescribe a booster vaccine.
  • Humane euthanasia – in some cases, your vet will suggest humane euthanasia.


The bad news is that cats with rabies symptoms will not make it. Rabies in cats is mostly 100% fatal. However, if you notice something strange with your cat, you should rush to the clinic and ask for vet help. It is crucial that you immediately go to the clinic if you suspect that your cat has rabies.

RELATED: 5 Most Common Reasons Why Does My Cat Stare At Me

Preventing rabies in cats

To prevent this disease, there are a few things you can do. The first and most important is regularly vaccinating your cat against rabies. Make sure that the vaccine is up to date. If it's possible, you should keep your cat secure and only allow her outside under supervision. Outdoor cats are at a greater risk of conducting this disease.

IMPORTANT: Vaccine is the best prevention of rabies in cats.

Can cats transmit rabies to humans?

Yes, cats can transmit rabies to humans and other animals. Because of that, you must keep your cat safe and healthy. This is especially true for owners who let their house cats roam freely. Your cat could get infected if some stray cat bites your cat, and she could transmit rabies to your or your other animals.

RELATED: FIP In Cats - Symptoms, Types & Treatment

Vaccine for rabies

There is a vaccine to protect your cat completely, and for most states, it is mandatory. Kittens will receive the first vaccine when they are 12 - 20 weeks old, and after one year, they will receive a booster vaccine.

Adult cats will receive the rabies vaccine every 1-3 years, depending on the brand of the vaccine. This rabies vaccine has dramatically reduced rabies in cats, but the most significant problems are stray cats that have not received the rabies vaccine.

World Cat Finder Team

world cat finder logo