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How Often Do Cats Need Rabies Shots? What To Know

How Often Do Cats Need Rabies Shots? What To Know

While there are many natural and holistic methods of caring for your cat, you may be a cat owner who prefers to keep up with preventive medicine. Vaccinations are a recommended method to give your cat a quality life; the one thing your feline friend can thank you for the most.

Usually, cats need rabies vaccinations every year or every three years. In the United States of America, most states require annual vaccinations, no matter the labeling. Rabies is a deadly disease, and a yearly veterinarian visit is best to ensure proper follow-up.

Some rabies vaccinations are certified for one year while others for three years. Your veterinarian will let you know about your cat’s specific vaccination schedule, depending on your state’s laws. Let’s discover more of what you need to know on rabies shots for your cat!

What Is Rabies?

Rabies is a contagious disease generated by a virus in the Rhabdoviridae family that reproduces in the brain and causes damage, developing violent and irrational behavior. The virus extends to the salivary glands and unites with the saliva in the mouth of the carrier. Rabies spreads from animals to humans. It bombards the nervous system, and once symptoms start showing, it is 100% fatal in animals if left untreated.

How Often Do Indoor Cats Need Rabies Shots?


It depends, but even indoor cats need to be vaccinated to safeguard their health. Your veterinarian is the best guide to determine which vaccines your cat needs based on its age, overall health, and lifestyle, and of course, state laws.

Living indoors is indeed safer than living in the wild; however, infectious diseases, such as rabies, can undoubtedly affect your indoor cat. Therefore, responsible vaccination is a necessary practice to keep your furry friend healthy.

The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association recommends that cats get vaccinated at the age of three months and then again by the date specified on the vaccine package. This next shot is usually one year later, and it acts as a booster. The latest vaccine protects your pet for the next three years.

Most states have laws that demand annual rabies vaccines for cats. Once your cat receives the first rabies shot, you must re-administer the dose within the 12th month following the first shot. With the exception that you allowed its rabies protection to expire or don’t administer it on the required time frame, the defense is maintained for another three years. Therefore, it is recommended to boost the vaccination after these three years.

Some states have no minimum requirements for rabies shots for cats. Ask your veterinarian if the state you’re in doesn’t require it. Suppose you get no exact recommendation from your vet. In that case, it is a good idea to have your cat vaccinated for rabies every three years following the two first annual vaccinations. This practice may help protect your family as well and give you peace of mind.

Rabies can be carried onto humans and is lethal in most cases around the world. Therefore, strict laws apply to the rabies vaccination of pets. Usually, a simple bite from an infected animal can transmit rabies.

Remember that there is no effective treatment for rabies. Without a prevalent rabies vaccination, your cat may need to be put in quarantine or even euthanized after biting someone or being bitten by a possibly rabid animal.

Even if your cat only needs a rabies vaccination every three years, scheduling annual wellness visits for your furry friend is a wise idea. Regular well-being checkups are significant measures to help to prevent risks for your cat’s health.

Vaccinations are simply one element of a wellness visit. Since pets don’t always show signs of early disease, annual or biannual exams are vital for keeping your pet in optimal health.

Is Rabies Fatal For Cats?


Rabies can be fatal for a series of animals, including indoor cats.

Weeks or months can pass by before signs appear after a cat has contracted rabies. However, once these signs do occur, the eventuality of death commonly happens within about a week or two. Sadly, there is no cure for rabies in animals. Thus it is essential to have your cat vaccinated for rabies.

A rabid cat will usually present these three stages:

  • Prodromal: initial signs of rabies affect the cat’s behavior, such as sudden shyness and the act of hiding. This stage can last two to three days.
  • Excitative: the second phase is when cats show more extreme behavior changes. Anxiety and restlessness occur. This stage can last one to seven days and may continue over other stages.
  • Paralytic: the final stage of rabies includes signs of weakness and paralysis in the head, neck, and chest. The larynx will become paralyzed, and the cat will no longer make sounds or swallow. Foaming at the mouth begins; if the cat cannot swallow, salivation becomes extreme.

Weakness turns into paralysis, and the muscles that control breathing can collapse, leading to death. This stage lasts two to four days and ultimately leads to death.

Assuming your cat has received a rabies shot in the past. In that case, your veterinarian may recommend re-vaccination after the bite, more so if the next vaccination date is overdue. There is a possibility that it can boost its immunity and prevent rabies from infecting your cat.

If your cat has never received a rabies shot, your veterinarian will very likely put your cat in quarantine and observation for noticeable signs of rabies. Unfortunately, euthanasia is the only option in this case once signs of rabies have begun.

How Long Does The Rabies Vaccine Last?

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine study how long animals are immune to rabies after receiving the vaccine. However, the results of the research are still not definite, according to Dr. Sandra Sawchuk.

More recent studies suggest that “For cats, so far we have challenge data out nine years showing that immunity is still protective,” says veterinarian Jean Dodds. And with the rabies vaccine, new data indicates the immunity lasts for at least seven years, she says.

Some vaccines’ protective effects last much longer than one year. But, as shown by published studies, sometimes immunity lasts a lifetime.

What Other Vaccines Do Indoor Cats Need Yearly?


Most animals need what are known as core vaccines: those that protect against the most common and most serious diseases.

Other necessary vaccines for indoor cats are:

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP)

This combination vaccine is usually referred to as the “distemper” shot. It protects against feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, and panleukopenia.

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia (Felv)

These vaccines protect against viral infections transmitted by close contact; they are mostly recommended for cats that spend time outdoors.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your pet’s rabies vaccination updated is extremely important. Your veterinarian is your best reference for the most current findings for vaccinating your cat to protect it from avoidable infectious diseases.

Despite legal requirements, sustaining a disciplined rabies vaccination is medically recommended. Even an exclusively indoor cat may find a way to sneak out of the house and be in contact with rabies via a wild animal in the neighborhood. A rabid bat, for example, can well find its way inside your home, appearing as an attractive hunting target for an indoor cat.

It seems pointless to take the risk of having your family and your cat in danger by objecting to vaccination against rabies.

Bear in mind that vaccines don’t offer absolute immunity from diseases. To help your pet stay healthy, restrict their contact with infected animals and to environments where infectious conditions may be present.

“Rabies is a human health concern, not just an animal health issue.”