Cat Rabies Symptoms

Cat rabies symptoms can vary tremendously. Rabies is caused by a virus and is one of the best know diseases on the world. It travels from the bite wound along nerves to reach the brain, and it is almost always fatal. It affects all warm-blooded animals, including cats and people. Rabies is very well known because it can be transmitted from animals to humans.


Rabies is transmitted by an infected animal biting a non infected animal or person. The species that most commonly carry and transmit rabies are bats, skunks, raccoons, and foxes.

Cat Rabies Symptoms

Once a cat has been bitten it will take time before the cat displays any symptoms. The virus slowly moves along nerves near the bite up the spinal cord to the brain. In cats this normally takes 14 to 42 days, but it could take longer.

Once the virus reaches the brain, it starts to be shed in the saliva, which is when you see cat rabies symptoms. At this stage the cat could experience one or all of these phases:

Prodromal Phase

In cats this phase last for 1 to 2 days. Cats that are normally friendly can become very aggressive towards people. Also the cat may lick excessively the area where they were bitten. Some other symptoms can include restlessness, anxiety, and irritability.

Furious Phase

After the prodromal phase, cats normally enter the furious phase. In this phase cats will tend to be very aggressive and bite anything. They are very sensitive to light and sound at this stage. The cat may have seizures and die as a result.

Paralytic (dumb) phase

Cat can enter this phase from either the prodromal or furious phase. This phase is seen usually within a few days of the first signs of infection. At this point the muscles of the cat are starting to get paralyzed. They might be unable to swallow so they drool a lot. Also they will have trouble breathing due to paralysis of the chest muscles and diaphragm. The cat will eventually die from being unable to breath.


The direct fluorescent antibody test (dFA) is the test most frequently used to diagnose rabies. This test requires brain tissue from cats suspected of being rabid. The test can only be performed after the cat is dead.


Unfortunately there is no treatment for rabies, it is usually fatal. The important thing is to not expose any other animals or people to the rabid cat.


Making sure your cat is vaccinated for rabies is the way to prevent infection, and in some areas it is required by law to have your dog and cat vaccinated. A vaccinated cat has little chance of becoming infected.

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The normal vaccination protocol for rabies is to give one shot at 4 months, another at one year of age, and then every three years.

What to do if you are exposed

Cats that are suspected of possibly having rabies are quarantined for 10 days normally. If the cat does not develop rabies symptoms in that time they do not have rabies. Unfortunately sometimes local officials will euthanize suspected rabid cats right away for testing.

People who are exposed to a rabid cat will get prophylactic injections from doctors to protect themselves.


Cats, like any warm-blooded animals are susceptible to getting rabies. Cats contract it through bites of other animals who are infected. The best way to protect your cat is to keep them indoors. Cat rabies symptoms are wide ranging, so having your cat vaccinated is a must.