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Early Signs Of Rabies In Cats

Rabies is one of the oldest known highly fatal, infectious diseases caused by Lyssavirus affecting central nervous system (CNS) of virtually all warm blooded animals including CATS. Although Rabies in cat is rare, it is necessary to know about the early signs of rabies in cat is highly important for the cat owners. In addition to this rabies symptoms in cat helps a cat owner to take preventive measures in the cat against rabies.

Incidence of Rabies

All the warm blooded animals including the cats are susceptible to the disease, which has a worldwide distribution except Great Britain, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, Hawai, and Caribbean Islands.


A bullet sahped highly fragile ribonucleic acid (RNA) virus of genus LYssavirus belonging to the family Rhabdoviridae is the causative agent for the occurrence of rabies. The rabies virus is susceptible to heat, low pH and wide variety of disinfectants including actinic rays.


The virus is present in the saliva of clinically affected animals. Therefore, the disease is primarily transmitted through bite of infected animals and to a lesser extent by transplacental/aerosol infection and occasionally through ingestion of carrier animals. Apart from dogs and cats, wolf, jackal and mongoose are important reservoirs of the virus.

Early Signs of Rabies in Cats

The rabies symptoms in cats are essentially similar to those seen in dogs. All the three typical manifestaions i.e prodormal, furious and dumb forms are exhibited by the affected animals. The incubation period varies from 2-12 weeks and may be occassionally prolonged upto 4 years.

The early signs of rabies in cat include-

  • Roaring loudly and biting all the objects inside home.
  • Violent movements including dashing anything on the way resulting in self inflicting injuries.
  • Conjuctivitis and partial protrusion of tongue.
  • Incordinated movements due to leg weakness.
  • Unable to move even after prodding and was swaying the hind quarters.

These cats will die within 3-4 days of showing clinical signs. Generally, furious form followed by dumb form prior to death of a cat.

Diagnosis of Rabies in Cats

The rabies symptoms in cats can easily confirmed by following diagnostic methods--

  • Clinical Signs and history.
  • Demonstration of Negri bodies in the impression smear of brain. In cat brain, Lyssa bodies, which are akin morphologically to Negri bodies are known to be seen in the neurons of non-rabid animals. In such cases, more definitive diagnosis has to be carried out.
  • Histopathlogy of CNS.
  • Bilological test by intracerebral inoculation of suspected brain material into mice and reproduction of the disease.
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) assay on skin biopsy, corneal impressions and saliva.

Prevention and Control

  • Two doses of rabies killed vaccine are administerd intrmuscularly with one month interval when the animals are 8-10 weeks old and revaccinated every year.
  • The exposed individual animals can be treated with vaccine and serum. The wound should be thoroughly washed with water and soap. WHO recommends 6 doses (1 ml each) intramuscular rabies immunoglobulin or anti-rabies serum raised in equines on 0, 3, 7, 14, 28, and 90 days post-exposure.

More Pages on Cat Rabies in this site

Cat Rabies –an Overview

Risk and Benefits of Rabies Shots on Cats

Is there any link between the Rabies and Cancer?

Related Resources

Tips on How to Prevent Cat Rabies

Rabies - What You Need To Know

Rabies and Ferral Cats

Rabies In Your Cat Or Dog

Cat and Dog Bites