Rabies in cats
Rabies in cats leads to inevitable death. It is a terrible disease, that is, on the one hand quite rare, but on the other hand very dangerous. Rabies prevention is of extreme importance even if the pet is kept at home and never leaves your place.
Cat rabies vaccination is a mandatory preventive measure in all civilized countries. Cats that haven’t undergone the vaccination procedure are forbidden to be carried in public transport and even in private transport when leaving the country (the animal won’t be able to pass customs veterinary control). If the veterinary certificate doesn’t contain information about vaccination against rabies, the cat won’t be allowed to take part in an exhibition. Rabies vaccine for cats is free in all public veterinary clinics and vaccination centers.
Any warm-blooded animals can theoretically be carriers of rabies, but usually the carriers are dogs, cats, rodents, foxes, bats, hedgehogs and wolves. Sick animals are extremely dangerous and aggressive; they almost lose the self-preservation instinct. Both humans and animals can catch rabies through the following transmission ways:
- bite of a sick animal;
- eating of a virus carrier;
- through the saliva that has contacted with the skin (there is enough to have a tiny wound for the virus to get into blood).
Mice and rats live in basements of almost each multistoried building and always appear at house adjoining territories in the private sector. As the cat can catch rabies, having eaten a sick rat, there is no guarantee that your pet living in the house won’t get infected with rabies.
Rabies virus action is a difficult process that is still not absolutely clear to researchers. It is known that having got into blood, this virus gets into nerve fibers. Then it moves to the brain, and then – to salivary glands where a virus reproduction process takes place. The neurons affected with a virus die off and that finally leads to the death of the carrier.
The incubatory period of rabies in cats varies from two weeks to several months. It is impossible to define how quickly the symptoms will appear. Mostly it depends on the amount of virus cells got into blood, and from a way of rabies transmission. The first symptoms of rabies in cats will appear earlier if the bite was deep, in head or neck area or near large blood vessels. There are three forms of rabies, and the violent form happens most often.
The violent form of rabies includes prodromal, maniacal and depressive stages. The duration of the first stage – about three days. Rabies manifestation in cats within this stage is hardly noticeably: the pet’s behavior becomes compulsive: the cat tends to lick owner’s hands and face. As far as the pet’s appetite is concerned, sometimes it decreases and sometimes becomes perverted: the cat gnaws and licks inedible subjects, furniture, floor and carpets. By the end of this stage the following symptoms are noticeable: vomiting, diarrhea, pronounced salivation.
The second stage lasts for three-five days. Now it is clear that the pet is seriously sick: the saliva flux is observed, the cat hides in dark corners, refuses from water and food. Other symptoms of rabies in cats at a maniacal stage are: eating of inedible subjects and materials, keratoleukoma, drooped jaw, lurching. By the end of this stage the cat loses touch with the environment, the behavior becomes illogical: the animal rushes on everyone including the owner, tries to seize a face or a neck. Neither caress, nor arrangements and intimidation can stop a sick cat. Many animals run away (even if they never did it before), and rush carelessly, often changing the direction, pouncing on people, dogs and cats.
The duration of the third stage is about two days. Rabies leads to paralysis of extremities, and then to the paralysis of the whole body, which is followed by spasms and cramps. As a result of the general exhaustion or respiratory standstill the animal dies.
Paralytic form lasts only a few days. The first signs of rabies in cats are: drowsiness, depression, general weakness. Cats have poor appetite, drink no water, usually hide in a dark corner, and don’t react to external stimuli. At the beginning cats are not aggressive. Then the paralysis of the front legs, torso develops, which is followed by the paralysis of the hind limbs. Animals die from exhaustion, cardiac or respiratory arrest.
The atypical form of rabies is extremely rare and is characterized by general weakness, poor appetite, depression, constipation or diarrhea, and vomiting. Signs of rabies in cats suffering from the atypical form of rabies may occur intermittently, with temporary improvements. The disease lasts from a few weeks to six months, death is imminent.
What to do in cases of suspected rabies?
It takes about three weeks from the moment of catching rabies till the onset of symptoms. The most dangerous thing is that a week before the onset of symptoms (and sometimes earlier) the cat is already contagious! The virus can get into the human body after a close contact with the cat that seems healthy (through the contact with cat’s saliva).
As it is possible to determine rabies in cats only symptomatically, it is important to remember all the signs of the disease described above. At first suspicion it is necessary to isolate the animal without approaching it (lock off the door of the room). Then you should immediately call the municipal veterinary clinic and describe the symptoms. The operator will send experts that will put the cat in a closed box and drive it to the clinic.
If the contact with the cat’s saliva took place or if there are bites or scratches on your skin, you should immediately wash the wound with plenty of hot running water with soap (with the most common soap that contains much alkali, not with the liquid or perfumed one).
Nobody will take materials for studies in living cats with suspected rabies. Intravital analysis of rabies in cats is almost useless, because negative result does not guarantee the absence of virus. Sick pets are kept under strict quarantine. If a vet studies the symptoms and understands that the cat is not sick with rabies and any other disease, the cat will be rendered medical aid. Otherwise, the vet is only waiting for the sick animal to die, to analyze the brain tissue for the presence of Babes-Negri cells. If the result is positive, the owner and everyone who had contacts with the sick animal, must necessarily undergo rabies treatment.
When the onset of rabies symptoms takes place, animals are doomed to death. Treating any animals with rabies is forbidden (because of high risk for the clinic staff). The same for people: the onset of symptoms means death sentence.
Rodent control reduces the probability of encountering the virus, and therefore, it is important to avoid the presence of rodents in farmlands and residential areas. However, the only effective measure to prevent the disease is vaccination against rabies. Kittens should be vaccinated for the first time after the change of teeth (in case they are kept at home) and when they are three months old if the baby sometimes walk outside. Adult animals are vaccinated annually. A vermifuge should be given to the pet two weeks before the vaccination. It is forbidden to vaccinate kittens during the teething, as well as sick and convalescent cats weakened by stress or trauma, pregnant and nursing cats.
Modern rabies vaccine for cats is safe (except for the cases of individual intolerance, but it is not because of the drug, but because of peculiarities of th organism). All rabies vaccines contain “dead” virus that is not able to replicate itself, so the cat can’t catch rabies from vaccinations. According to veterinarians, the best vaccine available is Nobivac Rabies. Other effective vaccines are Quadricat, Leucorifelin, Rabican.
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