The period that cats live with rabies is determined by their age, body weight and the number of pathogens that enter the wound during infection. A significant role is played by the form of the disease, as well as the ability of the animal to resist the development of the virus.
What is rabies in cats?
Rabies is a disease of viral etiology, the mortality rate of which is 100%, and the clinical picture is accompanied by disorders of the nervous system.
The transmission of the pathogen occurs upon contact with the saliva of an infected animal, most often during a bite. Infection can also occur when licking and eating objects that previously got the rabies virus.
Important! The habit of cats licking their paws ensures the constant presence of the virus on them. Therefore, not only a bite, but also a slight scratch can lead to infection of humans or other animals.
The reservoir of the pathogen is wild predators, squirrels, hedgehogs and small rodents, as well as stray dogs and cats. Domestic cats can become infected by hunting rats. Cases of infection of pets with the bite of bats flying into apartments have been reported.
Therefore, knowing what rabies is in cats, it is worthwhile to vaccinate on time, which is the only way to protect against this deadly disease.
The time from the moment the virus enters the pet's body until the onset of clinical signs is called the incubation period. In most cases, its duration varies from one to two weeks.
Important! In veterinary practice, isolated cases were recorded when the first symptoms appeared a year after infection.
A short incubation period is observed in small kittens, as well as adults after bites in the head and neck, accompanied by significant damage to the soft tissues.
During this phase of the disease, the virus at a speed of 3 mm per hour migrates along the nerve endings to the spinal cord and brain, simultaneously affecting the salivary glands and starting to stand out in the external environment with saliva. From this moment, the pet is able to infect creatures in contact with it.
Forms of rabies
The violent form of rabies is the most typical manifestation of the disease, in which there is a sequential alternation of the three stages with characteristic clinical symptoms. But few people know about the existence of other forms of the disease, accompanied by atypical symptoms.
Paralytic (silent) form
The absence of aggression with a paralytic (silent) form of rabies makes diagnosis difficult. The disease at an early stage can be accidentally detected when the owners contact the veterinary clinic with a suspicion that the cat was choking.
But when examining and collecting anamnestic data, the doctor finds out that a similar condition was preceded by behavioral changes expressed in an inexplicable manifestation of excessive sociability and tenderness on the part of the pet. Particular attention is paid to the presence of fresh traces of bites, scratches and wounds on the body of the animal, which indicate the possibility of infection.
As the disease develops, the clinical picture changes. The cat becomes lethargic, lethargic, refuses to feed. As a result of paralysis of the musculature of the pharynx, drool constantly begins to flow, the jaw sags, there is no normal reaction to habitual irritants and coordination of movements. Soon convulsions and paralysis occur, leading to death.
Specialists distinguish 3 stages of violent form of rabies.
The prodromal (initial) phase is manifested:
- the desire for solitude in a dark place;
- refusal of habitual food, but at the same time swallowing inedible objects;
- increased reaction to familiar external stimuli;
A characteristic symptom of the disease is increased attention to the bite site. Due to constant severe itching, the animal can not only lick the wound, but begin to bite it and tear it apart with its paws.
Sometimes the first sign of an illness is a change in behavior pattern in which a cat commits acts that are not characteristic of her earlier. A shy and closed creature becomes sociable and playful, requiring constant attention.
Frequent change of place and catching non-existent insects should also alert the owners, and serve as a reason to contact the veterinarian.
The excitation phase is accompanied by the following symptoms:
- constant salivation;
- manifestation of uncontrolled aggression, alternating with a period of detachment;
- paralysis of certain muscle groups.
During a fit of rage, a sick pet begins to attack a person, other animals, and inanimate objects. With incredible strength, he tears soft tissues and gnaws hard materials to relieve itching in the oral cavity.
The paralytic phase is characterized by a change in aggressiveness apathy and impotence. The cat, exhausted by hunger, pain and hallucinations, stops getting up, moving around and reacting to surrounding irritants. Temperature indicators are reduced to normal, breathing becomes superficial, the heartbeat slows down. In the last day of life, generalized paralysis of almost all muscle groups is observed.
A fatal outcome occurs as a result of cardiac arrest and paralysis of the smooth muscles of the respiratory system.
Despite the absence of aggression, the atypical form of rabies is considered the most dangerous and insidious, as it is extremely difficult to suspect it of an animal by clinical signs.
Symptoms are manifested in the form of digestive disorders similar to enteritis or carnivorous plague.
Despite treatment, attacks of vomiting and diarrhea become more frequent, depletion quickly develops, an exhausted animal stops moving, and when you try to get up, it falls.
Rapid dehydration creates an enormous load on the cardiovascular system, a lack of oxygen leads to pathological changes in all organs and systems.
A competent specialist can suspect rabies only at the last stage of the disease 1-2 days before death, when abundant salivation, a constantly sagging jaw, an absent gaze and paralysis of various muscle groups of the body become noticeable. Comparing these symptoms with the fact of the cat's previous contact with a stray or wild animal, the veterinarian assumes that he is infected with rabies, euthanizes his pet and sends his body to the laboratory to confirm the diagnosis.
In the abortive form of rabies after the stage of excitement, an inexplicable alternation of periods of remission and relapse occurs. Each subsequent attack manifests itself in a stronger form and ultimately leads to death.
Interesting! In veterinary practice, there have been isolated cases of recovery, which could not find a scientific basis.
Rabies Cat Life Span
The form of the disease determines the life span of a rabid cat after the first clinical signs.
- With a violent form, it is from 6 to 14 days.
- In paralytic form - from 5 to 7 days.
- With atypical form - 14-30 days.
- With an abortive form - 14-21 days.
Throughout the entire period of clinical symptoms and 10 days before their appearance, the cat poses a danger to others because of the ability to become infected.
Therefore, no matter how terrible this may sound, but, having noticed oddities in the pet’s behavior, it is necessary to isolate it, and when confirming the diagnosis of rabies, put it to sleep and burn it.