Do Feral Cats Have Rabies & How Can You Tell?

The thought of coming in contact with a rabid cat or animal is terrifying to most people, and for good reason. Rabies is incredibly dangerous and can cause major health problems.

Even when diagnosed right away, people who get bitten or scratched by a sick animal have to undergo painful and extensive treatment to ensure that they are not in danger.

If you’re wondering, do feral cats have rabies? The general answer is no, feral cats don’t have rabies, although some may have it.

Feral cats are not the main carrier of rabies but they can have rabies.  Raccoons and rats are much more likely to have this disease.

Because of this, many people are often unkind to them and try to avoid contact with them. Luckily, this isn’t always the case.

How Do Cats Get Infected with Rabies?

Any animal, which includes cats, can contract rabies through a bite from an infected animal.

Wild animals are most likely to carry rabies, this means that any animal that comes in contact with them is at risk. Outbreaks do occur, but health officials move to handle these outbreaks.

scared cat

This helps to protect the general public and prevent an uncontrolled spread of this disease.

Rabies is NOT transmitted through the blood, urine, or feces of an infected animal, nor is it spread airborne through the open environment.

How to Tell If a Cat Has Rabies?

Understanding the signs of a rabies infection is key and will help you protect yourself if you encounter an infected animal.

Symptoms can vary, but there are a few classic signs to look out for.

feral cat with a bite wound on its ear

Common Signs a Cat Has Rabies

  • aggression
  • loss of appetite
  • disorientation
  • seizures, and paralysis.
  • sudden death is a sign, as well.

Also, you should be on the lookout for any type of wound that could’ve occurred through fighting (such as a bitten ear).

Are Cats High Risk of Rabies Infection?

Unfortunately, cats that are allowed to roam free, such as feral cats, are at a higher risk for developing rabies.

Cats can easily become infected after a fight with an infected animal.  Widespread vaccination programs are a great way to battle this problem and take care of even feral animals.

The Truth About Rabies in Cats

While it’s important to know the facts about rabies, most people are surprised to know that feral cats are generally healthy and are not the animals spreading this disease.

In fact, they are usually just as healthy as pet cats, although they often get a bad reputation for spreading disease.

tom cat with rabies

Cats have instincts that guide them to stay away from animals that are sick.

Since these animals are defensive, and not offensive, they will try to do anything they can to prevent running into other animals, especially wild ones that may attack.

The animals that they hunt for food rarely have rabies.

Since feral cats aren’t socialized to come up to and spend time around people, they are not very likely to spread diseases to humans.

outdoor cats hiding under a shed

Feral cats are happier being by themselves and will avoid contact with people as much as possible. This means that people aren’t at risk from feral cats the way that many of them assume they are.

By taking time to understand rabies, how to identify it, and to learn that feral cats are not the real danger, people can better advocate for these animals.

Feral cats are often pointed at as the cause of rabies, but this isn’t true in most cases. Knowing this gives people comfort when dealing with feral cats.

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