It is a common knowledge that rabies is lethal for both human and the carrier. One can figure animals suffering this deadly disease by perceiving their aggressive, violent behavior along with their sudden attack on whoever comes near. Therefore, few people know that this extreme behavior is generally the second stage of this fatal disease. Unfortunately, once the infected animals enter this stage, there is no way out. This disease is preventable though if you have vaccinated your pet beforehand.
Rabies is a virus known as lyssaviruse that damages the nervous system and brain of animals it affects. The distribution of the virus commonly happens through the bites of infected animals to other uninfected animals. Their teeth, however, is a mere medium to inject saliva that has already contained the virus. Therefore, rabid animals can possibly spread the virus through any other medium, such as claws, as long as it has already made a contact with their saliva.
How the virus stored in the saliva occurs as it traverses peripheral nerves after the first contact of the infection. The virus then makes its way to the spinal cord, rises to the brain and ends up in the salivary glands through other peripheral nerves.
Although it is extremely rare, rabies can spread through the air under special circumstance. The transmission can occur when the air consists of droplets or a high concentration of suspended particles carrying the rabies particle. This occurrence can happen inside a bat cave, where the secretion from rabid bats’ nose and mouth may be aerosolized.
3 Stages of rabies symptoms in cats
Since the virus that causes rabies mainly affects mammals, the majority of pets that consist of these animals are also prone to this disease. Cats are no exception. This furry animal even had acquired its fame as the most reported rabid animal in the US and had surpassed dogs in spreading the virus on the human every year since 1990.
If you own a cat at your home, it is better to recognize the signs of this viral disease. By doing so, you may be able to prevent your beloved pet and your family from the infection of this horrible disease. The symptoms of cats carrying rabies basically consist of three stages as follows. Or you may want to know the early stage of rabies in cats here.
1. Prodromal stage
The prodromal stage begins as the virus has reached the brain of its host. The virus normally takes two to six weeks to reach the brain of cats after the first exposure.
The first stage of rabies in cats only lasts in a very short time between one to three days. It is quite a challenge to tell the symptoms of the cat that has developed rabies. The variance in each cat causes the symptoms to be obscure and indefinite. Added to that, some symptoms may be confused with other illnesses.
In spite of that, the most possible, notable symptom of this stage is the sudden changes in cats’ behavior. The result differs between each cat. A usually shy cat that does not willing to approach any human may suddenly stroke its head against the human’s foot. On the contrary, a cat that used to shows her affection toward human may usually be found in solitude and will run away from any attempt to touch her.
Cats may also develop a sudden loss of appetite, fever, excessive drooling and dilation in the pupils. They may start to wander around during the daytime, breaking their habit as a nocturnal animal. In addition, cats suffering from rabies may exhibit a tendency to bite any nearby object. Even though, some argue that the last symptom may appear on the next stage.
2. Furious stage
As the given name of this stage, cats become more aggressive and violent than its usual self. While their fear of human has decreased, rabid cats become overly sensitive to environmental stimuli, making them aimlessly attack other animals and human in sight. Even a moving object or any living thing with a slight movement and noise can easily provoke them. You should be more cautious since it is common for a human to be infected during this very stage. The symptoms of this stage usually begin on the second or the third day after the first infection.
Moreover, rabid cats start to make a new habit—biting foreign objects such as stones, sticks or even feces. Even after being caged, they may bite the frame tirelessly and stick their claws outside in the attempt to scratch.
At this second stage, cats may show the tendency to bite their selves. Near the end of this stage, cats are gradually disorientated. Afterward, they would experience seizures that accompanied by losing the coordination of their muscle. It is marked by the felines’ body that begins to be stiff. They would lose balance on the feet, making them fall on their side. Sometimes having no control of the muscle may force them to excrete, urinate and natter. Unfortunately, many cases confirm that cats undergoing the furious stage will die eventually.
3. Paralytic stage
Often called as the ‘dumb phase’, this stage happens either after the prodromal or furious stage. The symptoms of this last stage usually emerge in two or four days after the first exposure. During this stage, the infected cats suffer paralysis as the result of the virus that has completely damaged the motor neurons. It mainly affects the area around cats’ head and throat. Therefore, cats may lose their ability to swallow and they begin producing saliva in a large amount.
While the paralysis affects the area around the face, cats may have great difficulty in breathing. Besides the failure in the respiratory system, the infected cats also have their jaw dropped. These occurrences drastically turn the previously aggressive behavior into totally depressive.
After feeling the terrible pain of paralysis, the infected feline may produce a loud, deep voice, as there is something stuck inside her throat. Afterward, the cat would completely lose her muscular control, suddenly get weaker and experience respiratory failure, which leads to her death.
Rabies is a life-threatening disease that offers no treatment upon its exposure. Hence, the diagnosis can only be done after the host dies. However, it is believed rabies can be cured within the incubation period when the virus has not reached the nervous system. Yet, unless you know a rabid animal had bitten your cat, you cannot foresee your cat carrying the disease during the incubation period.
Besides knowing how to tell the symptoms of rabies, you should protect your pet from this viral disease. Although rabies is incurable, you can simply prevent it by giving proper vaccination to your cat.
The use of rabies vaccination has become an obligation in some countries such as The US. Even upon enforcing the law, The US greatly decreased the number of rabies in 1983 by 95% in humans and 98% in dogs.
When you suspect your cat has developed any related symptom, you should ask for immediate help from your vet. Moreover, you have to take any necessary precaution to avoid the disease from infecting you and your family. Giving the great care of your cat is also important, especially when you are new to this field. Therefore, you should learn the basic ways to treat them and get to know their general needs.