Rabies in Cats: Symptoms and What to Do

Rabies is a very serious and frightening disease for any pet to have. This is not only because Rabies is a fatal condition in pets, but because it can potentially be passed on to humans as well. Rabies in cats is something all cat owners should be aware of and understand.

In cats the main symptoms of Rabies include things like fever, lethargy, and a reduced appetite in the early stages. As the disease progresses, more severe symptoms of Rabies will develop such as behavioral changes, paralysis, foaming at the mouth, and seizures.

In this article we will be explaining everything that there is to know about Rabies in cats. This will include describing the symptoms of Rabies in cats, how it can be prevented, and how the condition is diagnosed by a vet. In addition to this, we will be exploring whether or not Rabies in cats can be treated or not. Let’s get into it.

What Is Rabies?

Rabies is a viral infection that is somewhat common in wild animals, and most of the time wild animals are the ones that spread Rabies to pets and domesticated animals. Rabies mainly attacks an animal’s nervous system. This is why symptoms like extreme behavioral changes and paralysis almost always occur in Rabies cases.

Can You Prevent Rabies In Cats?

The good news is that Rabies is an extremely preventable disease in cats, dogs, and even ferrets. This is because there are vaccines for Rabies that are readily available for all of these different types of pets. Initial vaccines should be given to kittens, and then they will need a Rabies booster shot every few years. If you have questions about when you should give your cat their Rabies shots, then calling your vet is sure to give you all of the answers that you are looking for.

Rabies in Cats: Symptoms and What to Do in buffalo grove, il

How Do Cats Get Rabies?

Rabies is a disease that is mainly passed through the saliva of an infected animal. As a result, most of the time cats will contract Rabies as a result of a fight with an infected animal where they have received a bite.

Considering that Rabies is much more common in wild and feral animals, keeping your cat indoors can greatly reduce their chances of contracting this life-threatening disease. This is especially true if your cat is in between Rabies booster shots.

Symptoms Of Rabies In Cats

There are many symptoms of Rabies in cats, and these symptoms do tend to change and progress very quickly. Most of the time the only early signs of Rabies in cats is lethargy, fever, and a reduced appetite. However, Rabies progresses quickly, and more severe symptoms like paralysis, seizures, and behavioral changes set in fairly soon after an animal contracts a disease. Here are the symptoms of Rabies in cats that everyone should be aware of.


A fever is an elevated body temperature, and this is usually one of the first symptoms of rabies that manifests in cats. You can check a cat’s body temperature with a thermometer that is designed for pets. It is a good idea to take your cat to the vet anytime that they have a fever.


Lethargy is another common early symptom of rabies in cats. This mainly includes acting more sleepy than usual, but it can also include getting tired very quickly after physical activity. Of course, this only applies when it is uncharacteristic of your cat, and this is also a sign of an extremely wide variety of illnesses and medical conditions.

rabies in cats in buffalo grove, il

A Reduced Appetite

If your cat suddenly stops eating then this is usually a sign that they are not feeling well. Unfortunately, this could also potentially be an early sign of rabies in cats as well.


Paralysis is an extremely common symptom of rabies, and this usually sets in as the disease progresses. Paralysis means that the cat is no longer able to move their legs, which is soon followed by other parts of the body as well. Soon before paralysis sets in you may notice that an animal has muscle tremors is having difficulty walking.


Seizures are another fairly common symptom of rabies in cats. This is because rabies works by attacking an animal’s central nervous system. It is best to take your cat to the vet if they have had a seizure. This is true even if you do not suspect that your cat has rabies.

Difficulty Breathing

Many cats with an advanced case of rabies will have difficulty breathing. This is mainly due to the advancement of paralysis that occurs in animals with rabies over time, Unfortunately, this is often how animals with rabies pass away.

Excessive Drooling And Foaming At The Mouth

Excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth are usually the first signs of rabies in animals that people think of. This is because this is a fairly clear sign of rabies, and it is pretty uncharacteristic of other kinds of illnesses or medical conditions.

Difficulty Swallowing

Difficulty swallowing is another common sign of rabies in cats, and it contributes to the excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth that we have just mentioned. This symptom of rabies is also due to the paralysis that an animal goes through as a result of the rabies infection.

Extreme Behavioral Changes

Some animals with rabies will also undergo extreme behavioral changes as well. Usually this is in the form of a sudden onset of aggressive behaviors. However, depression is also possible as a behavior change due to a rabies infection.

How Is Rabies Diagnosed In Cats?

Unfortunately, the only way for a vet to diagnose a cat with rabies is through assessing their symptoms. The only way to confirm a proper diagnosis is through a test of a cat’s brain matter after they pass away.

At Buffalo Grove Animal Hospital, we care about your pet and its health. Call us at (847) 394-1128 for any questions regarding your cat’s health. 

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About Buffalo Grove Animal Hospital

Buffalo Grove Animal Hospital has been a part of the Buffalo Grove community since 1969. Our veterinarians serve Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Palatine, and the surrounding areas with the best veterinary medicine year after year. Our commitment to pet health runs deep, and we’ve proven our skill and compassion by becoming an AAHA-accredited Animal Hospital, the highest accreditation veterinary practices can receive.