Can cats get rabies – a good question to know!

Can cats get rabies – a common question that may arise in your heart especially if you pet any cat at your home?

Even for me, several times I felt the same question when my pet cat became so intimate with me.

No doubt to tell – how affectionate a cat can be with his owner day by day!

It comes to sit beside you. After that goes to lick your fingers or arms with his tongue – an everyday common situation which we regularly observe in the case of rearing cats as a pet.

As we know, rabies is transmitted through the saliva of a rabid animal, so, this licking activity of cats could be a great concern for all of us to know if our lovely cat can get rabies.

Furthermore, scratching the nails of legs or biting can be other means of rabies transmission by the cat if rabies is remaining within your cat.

Now, come to the point.

Can cats get rabies?

The answer is certainly – yes! Your cat belongs to the group of carnivorous animals which are warm blooded. And all warm blooded mammals can get rabies if they are exposed to it.

I am giving you a real life incident described by Timothy Sly, an Emeritus Professor in the Epidemiology department of Ryerson University. He mentioned that a cat ran towards a road and was hit by a car accordingly.

The owner came to pick up his injured cat. Then it bit the hand of his owner. After that it died.

Everybody there presumed that due to the pain of injury, it bit his owner’s hand.

This happened in Ontario, Canada. Fortunately, Canadian rabies prevention protocol made it mandatory to examine any cat by veterinarian that dies after biting someone.

Because of this guideline, when the examination report came after a few days that cat was found to have rabies positive.

However, research revealed that within the last decades, the occurrence of rabies in cats has significantly increased. The reason behind this could be the lack of public awerness. People are not so accustomed with the vaccination program against rabies as a part of appropriate preventive measures.

This situation leads to the increase in  the infection rate of rabies among people. Because, rabies is a zoonotic disease that is transmitted from animals to humans.

You may know what rabies is as you are asking if a cat can get rabies.

Still, let me give you a brief idea about rabies.

What is rabies in cats?

Rabies is the name of a disease that is caused by a virus. It attacks the central nervous system of worm blooded mammals.

The transmission of rabies takes place when a rabies infected animal bites any healthy animals. At the point of bite, the virus localize and climb towards the brain along nerves.

After reaching in the brain, the animal starts to show symptom of rabies which we call post exposure state of the disease. Within a week in this stage, the animal dies.

Now, rabies for cats is the same viral infection as discussed above. This disease becomes fatal if remains untreated before appearing symptoms.  At the same time, you can prevent it with the help of vaccination.

Rabies symptoms sometimes become aggressive or furious that popularly known as mad animal.  As it’s also a zoonotic disease, which means your pet cats and dogs once infected can transmit the virus to human beings.

The good news is that in many countries “mad cats or dogs” has mostly become a history now. Thanks for the discovery vaccination of stray dogs for this achievement.

According to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, More than 90 percent rabies cases found in animals are due to wildlife which are not domesticated such as foxes, bats, skunks, raccoons etc.

Rabies in cats is not so common in present world. But, as cats is the most common domestic species, you must be aware about it.

If your cats come into contact with wild animals or stray dogs are still at risk.

Read more: Is it okay for cats to eat rice?

How rabies is transmitted to cat?

Rabies is usually transmitted through the bite of a cat infected with the virus. Rabies can also be transmitted through the saliva of an infected cat. The virus can survive in saliva for up to two hours. If this infected saliva mix with any open wounds or mucous membranes of human or other animals, the transmission can occur.

Saliva containing the virus penetrates the tissues and sticks to local muscles for several days before infiltrating into local nerves. After that, it starts to ascend to the brain slowly. At this point the virus is more visible in all body secretions.

Your cats usually can get rabies due to bitten by any infected wild animal. The common carriers among wildlife are foxes, raccoons, bats, skunks etc.

If there is more contact with wild animals, the higher the risk of your cat can get rabies infection.

Because feral animals are the most common carriers of rabies.

How to get rid of rabies in cats?

As, there is a chance of domestic cats to spend parts of their time outsides, they are also at risk. So, your domestic cats are not completely safe. On the other hand, outsiders can like stray cats, bats, raccoons or other wildlife can get inside of your home to spread rabies into your cat.

Therefore, in order keep your cat safe from rabies, it is highly recommended and already required by law in most countries of the world that your favorite cat should be properly vaccinated.

Even cats that have never been owned or that have been stray can become reservoir hosts for the rabies virus.

Unvaccinated cats are very rarely infected with rabies, but the consequences for unvaccinated cats are terrible. That is why vaccinations and booster vaccinations are required by law.

So, you already got your answer about whether cat can get rabies or not.  However, we are in the last stage of discussion at the moment.  Please share your opinion through comments if any. Thanks for your patience reading.

A veterinarian completed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree from Bangladesh Agricultural University. I worked for more than 12 years as a veterinary surgeon for Bangladesh Govt. During this time, I got the opportunity to work with pets. I bear a keen interest in pets by sharing my knowledge and experiences. Till now I am working in Dept. Livestock Services, Bangladesh.

1 thought on “Can cats get rabies – a good question to know!”

  1. I’m curious to find out what blog platform you are working with?
    I’m experiencing some small security issues with my latest site and I would like to
    find something more secure. Do you have any suggestions?


Leave a Comment