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wlc's avatar

Do indoor cats need a rabies vaccination each year?

Asked by wlc (39 points ) July 31st, 2009

If my cats get all their other shots and are primarily indoor, do they really need the rabies vaccine?

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20 Answers

Darwin's avatar

Local laws generally say yes because even an indoor animal can run up against a rabid bat in the living room. Then it becomes a risk to human life.

amaris's avatar

I really don’t think so, I have a primarily indoor cat too and we got him the initial rabies vaccine when we adopted him but haven’t gotten him anymore since then. Unless your cat starts venturing out of doors more often you’ll be fine without it. @Darwin brought up a good point about the legal issues though, my county doesn’t require it, but you should definitely check yours.

casheroo's avatar

I felt I got a lot of information when I asked a similar question: http://www.fluther.com/disc/43221/cat-questions-microchip-or-not-vaccinate/

In that question @syz informed me that the Rabies vaccine is good for three years, so you don’t need it every year. We do keep up with that, just in case our cats get out. Plus, it’s the law.

tinyfaery's avatar

My cats don’t get any shots. They are strictly indoor cats and never go out. Plus, rabies isn’t a big problem in Los Angeles.

PS My cats are healthy and happy.

dpworkin's avatar

Consult your Vet, and take his or her advice. I would say that a meaningful schedule of vaccinations protects both your animal and others – it’s the only way to conquer the disease, and house-cats sometimes are inadvertently let out.

AstroChuck's avatar

Many places legally require you to vaccinate your cats for rabies. We live in a city and have three exclusively indoor cats so we don’t bother (in fact, here in Sacramento the vet must report all rabies vaccinations to the county. That would tip them off that we have cats and Sacramento county requires that you license them). We also don’t get them vaccinated for feline leukemia as some cats have fatal reactions to the vaccine.

jamielynn2328's avatar

If there is any chance that your cat will escape and get outside, then it is a good idea. I know that in my area there are many free rabies clinics, and it is worth the piece of mind to know your cat is protected, just in case.

wildpotato's avatar

@casheroo some are for 3 years but some are only for 1

casheroo's avatar

@wildpotato I thought it was just the first one for one year, then the next for three years. Or maybe thats just the law? I’m not exactly sure.

Lovey_Howell's avatar

Most counties in the US require rabies vaccines for all dogs, cats and ferrets. A pet without a rabies vaccine that bites a human or another animal can be quarrantined by the county for anywhere from 10 days to 6 months, or even euthanized. By not vaccinating a pet in accordance to local requirements you risk losing your pet.

The American Association of Feline Practicioners (AAFP), an association made up entirely of licensed Veterinarians who specialize in cats recommends following local regulations by vaccinating even indoor cats due to the potential of infection by other animals (including bats which when rabid may enter homes), but also recommends using the 3-year Rabies vaccination in order to minimize the risk of vaccine associated soft-tissue sarcomas.

That being said…I don’t vaccinate my cat. Then again, my cat is 16 years old, has cancer and kidney failure, is not exposed to any potential infection, has never given the indication she may bite someone and never leaves home except to come with me to the clinic where I work for regular health checks.

I recommend all my clients follow their local regulations.

AstroChuck's avatar

Also, you asked if cats need the rabies vaccine every year. I might be wrong but I thought cats were given it every third year, not annually.

Darwin's avatar

We live in a rabies zone, so it is the law here that dogs and cats be given rabies shots annually, whether the shot lasts one year or three. It may vary depending on the risk of rabies where you and your animal live.

One of my cats was allergic to the rabies vaccine, so it would have been much easier on her and me (and the vet) if it were able to be given every three years. Thanks to Benedryl we were able to stay in legal compliance, but it wasn’t pleasant.

AstroChuck's avatar

I really need to get into the practice of reading all of the answers before I post. My last posting ended up saying basically the same thing as @casheroo.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Yes and no. Your cats, regardless of indoor/outdoor status, are legally required to be vaccinated for rabies at all times. There are two versions of the rabies vaccine for felines, one lasts for 1 year, the other lasts for 3 years. How often/when your cat needs to get the vaccine is entirely dependent on which one the cat got last time. You can check with the vet who administered the last vaccine and see which one it was, or you can simply air on the safe side of things and get your cat vaccinated again this year – just remember to check which version you get this time so you know how long you can wait to do it all over again!

wlc's avatar

Actually, the truth is that a rabies vaccination is NOT required annually. If a cat has a blood titer annually that shows antibodies to rabies, then a rabies vaccine is not required and the blood titer is acceptable legally.

AstroChuck's avatar

@wlc- That may be true where you are but where I live the rabies vaccination is mandatory for both dogs and cats.

Darwin's avatar

@wlc – Where we live the law states that a “rabies shot” is required annually, not a blood titer showing antibodies. It’s a small point but one that won’t make much leeway with local judges.

Lovey_Howell's avatar

@wic: Where I live (Illinois, USA) rabies titers will not satisfy legal requirements for rabies vaccinations, and I don’t know of any other state in the US that accepts titers to satisfy their legal statues either. While is true that the 1 year rabies vaccine and the 3 year rabies vaccine both will provide high antibody titers longer than they are labeled for US agencies do not accept titers at this time. The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) is working to change that.

catman's avatar

Cats don’t need shots every year. If they are indoor and only go out on supervised excursions, don’t waste the money and save your cat the pain and/or death from the shot itself. Same with teeth cleanings. Don’t let your vet talk you into expensive teeth cleanings. Your cat is not going to live to be 40 years old and probably not even 20 years old so they don’t need extensive dental care. This is just a way for them to make money on unnecessay treatments like the bombardment of shots. I love cats. I spent $5000 on trying to save a cat and in the end, it was all of the unnecessary treatments and specialists that my vet recommended that killed the cat. The same vet later told me my other cat was diabetic and needed to be given insulin shots once a month and be put on a speical diet. I took the cat in because I thought it had a urinary tract infection. I decided to ignor the vets advice, got me some antibiotics for the urinary tract infection and 4 years later my cat is going fine and is not diabetic. The best thing to keep cats healthy and happy is low stress and common sense. You want to find a vet that actually loves animals and doesn’t see them as profit centers. That is difficult. Once they know you will do will anything to save your cat, they will milk you for everything and cause the cat great pain. Don’t go there. Love your cat.

Darwin's avatar

‘The same vet later told me my other cat was diabetic and needed to be given insulin shots once a month ”

Insulin shots once a month?! More like once a day.

Sounds more like you need to find a better vet.

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