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World Rabies Day - The Feline Perspective

Rabies. The word itself is enough to send chills down one’s spine. And for good reason.
In the 21st century, this deadly virus still claims tens of thousands of human lives every year. The Global Alliance for Rabies Control estimates that over 150 people die of Rabies every single day! It’s a horrible death, in extreme physical and mental agony.

A cat being vaccinated for Rabies during World Rabies Day 2010 in Chille
Cat Vaccinated during World Rabies Day in Chille
Photo by The Global Alliance for Rabies Control

Rabies is considered 100% fatal in humans. Standard treatment is effective only if given before onset of symptoms (usually days, or even weeks, following exposure). No more shots to one’s belly though. The patient gets a series of shots in other areas of the body in regular intervals. Long and expensive, this treatment is absolutely necessary in cases of exposure to a rabid animal.


Here's an interesting tidbit: technically, Rabies is no longer 100% fatal, even after onset of symptoms! In 2004, an American student survived Rabies thanks to an aggressive regime of induced coma and a variety of anti-viral drugs. This new treatment protocol has since been successfully repeated twice. Still, the fact that only three people ever survived Rabies is an indication of just how fatal this disease truly is.


With Rabies, prevention is key. Vaccinating animals and humans saves lives across the world. The vast majority of human Rabies victims are in third world countries, where access to vaccines is limited. India alone, with a large population of feral dogs, accounts for a large proportion of fatalities.

While in first world countries people rarely die of Rabies, it is still very much around us. Unless you live in Australia (or Antarctica), Rabies is present in your country. In the USA, Reports indicate that over 90% of rabid animals are wild, often raccoons, skunks or bats. The 2010 CDC survey indicates that 8% of reported cases of rabies involved domestic animals. This should be of great concern to us as cat owners, as according to the CDC, “The number of rabies cases reported in cats is routinely 3-4 times that of rabies reported in cattle or dogs.” Do not be overly alarmed by these statistics, as the CDC's list of Rabies fatalities in humans does not have a single confirmed case where the victim contracted the disease from a cat.

Rabies is definitely a case of “better safe than sorry”.  Please take a moment to read our articles about “Cats and Rabies” and consider vaccinating your cat for Rabies. If your cat gets outside at all, or comes in contact with animals that do, you definitely should vaccinate for Rabies, even if your local regulations do not require you to.

When traveling to foreign countries, please keep Rabies in mind. We all tend to dot on local animals, especially cats, but contact with such animals while traveling in more exotic areas is a leading cause of Rabies in humans in western countries. Travel safely and limit contact with local animals.

Finally, today is World Rabies Day so please take a few minutes to learn more about Rabies. Read our article about Cats and Rabies and the following resources -
Rabies on the CDC website -
World Rabies Day
Rabies facts by the American Humane Association

As always, your comments are welcome. Share your experiences with Rabies vaccines or, God forbid, Rabid animals, in the comment form below.


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