Dear Christopher Cat
My cat never goes outside. Why does he need a rabies shot?
I’m a happy, healthy indoor cat too, but my mom vaccinates me for rabies for two reasons:
First, without the vaccine, I could get rabies if my attempts to sneak out of the house are ever successful, or if a rabid bat got into the house and bit me.
That might seem far-fetched, but most of the people who died of rabies in the U.S. in recent years died of a bat-type rabies virus -– despite the fact that they reported no animal bites and no exposure to wildlife, including bats.
Most bats leave no marks and cause no pain when they bite, so if a rabid bat got into your house, your cat could be bitten without anyone knowing.
If your cat developed rabies, he could give it to you or someone else through his saliva.
Once people or cats become sick with rabies, treatment is unsuccessful. Rabies attacks the brain, so death is agonizing.
In bats’ defense, I should point out that most bats don’t have rabies, and bats help our environment by eating insect pests and dispersing seeds.
Other warm-blooded animals, particularly raccoons and skunks, can also carry rabies.
The second reason to vaccinate your cat is because you’ll feel better obeying the law. In Pennsylvania, failure to maintain current rabies vaccination is punishable by fines of up to $300 per day.