The rabies virus is exceptionally dangerous for cats; fortunately, it is entirely preventable. Our Springfield vets discuss the costs, scheduling, and side effects associated with getting your cat vaccinated against rabies.
The Rabies Virus and How it Spreads
Rabies is an infection most commonly found in wild animals like skunks, foxes, and Racoons. The prognosis after catching rabies is not good for unvaccinated cats, for whom the infection is most often fatal.
The virus causes increased aggression in animals suffering from its effects, and most US states require Rabies-positive pets to be euthanized due to the ease with which the disease spreads through saliva. Because any mammal can contract rabies through the bite of an infected animal, it's critical to protect your pet with an anti-rabies vaccination.
Cat Rabies Vaccine Cost
The cost of rabies vaccination varies tremendously between different veterinarians, based in large part on what type of vaccine they use.
Longer-lasting vaccines, as well as vaccines with fewer potential side effects, are much more expensive—the best course of action is to ask your veterinarian which rabies vaccine(s) they provide and how much they cost. Your veterinarian can advise you on the best vaccination plan for your cat's health as well as your personal budget.
Cat Rabies Vaccine Schedule
The rabies vaccination schedule for cats varies depending on the brand of vaccine used. Most veterinarians provide vaccines without adjuvants, which were effective in preventing rabies but caused allergic reactions in some cats. Depending on the individual veterinary practice and any existing state legislation on rabies vaccination in cats, these vaccines may or may not be more expensive than vaccines with adjuvants, which are just as effective at preventing rabies but have a higher potential for causing rare side effects.
Older non-adjuvant vaccines only lasted for a year, so yearly booster shots were required. Newer vaccines have been developed which require a single booster a year after the first vaccination, followed by boosters every three years after that; these vaccines are considerably more expensive, however, so some veterinarians opt to stick with the older vaccine technology. If you ask your vet "how often should my cat have a rabies vaccine?" they will be able to tell you about what vaccination options they offer and what schedule is best for your cat.
Cats can begin their rabies vaccination treatment at 12 weeks old. If you haven't already, you can schedule your cat for all its routine vaccinations and other preventative care at Greenbrier-Springfield Animal Hospital.
Cat Reaction to Rabies Vaccine
Cat owners often have concerns about the cat rabies vaccine having side effects. They will tell our Springfield vets that they don't want to have to tell their family that their "cat died from rabies vaccine". Fortunately, these fears are unfounded. Side effects are rare and typically include only slight fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, and/or a localized swelling at the vaccine site.
In extremely rare cases, a cat may experience an allergic reaction to the vaccine, resulting in hives, extreme weakness, and unexplained collapse. It should be noted that modern rabies vaccines cause allergic reactions in less than 0.001% of cats. It is always safer to get your cat vaccinated rather than risk rabies infection in the future.
Indoor Cats and Rabies Vaccination
Cat owners may believe that rabies vaccination is unnecessary if their cat lives indoors, but this is not the case. While you may not let your cat outside, the risk of escape—or worse, an infected bat or rodent breaking into your home—is high enough to warrant protection for your feline companion.
The consequences of rabies are too dire to take any chances with, the best and only way to ensure your cat is completely protected against rabies is vaccination.