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C2003-52

Dear Christopher Cat

Please tell me about Pennsylvania’s law regarding rabies vaccination for cats. What are the legal consequences if my cats aren’t vaccinated? Does the same law apply to dogs?

Christopher Responds

I am an intelligent and wise cat, so I shall tell you what should be and what is.

All cats who live in the vicinity of humans should be vaccinated against rabies, because the disease is deadly to us cats and to you humans. Worse, we can pass the disease to you 13 days before we show signs of rabies, while we still look perfectly normal.

If we die alone in the woods, you’ll never know you were exposed – which means you won’t be treated until you show symptoms of rabies, which is too late.

Pennsylvania’s rabies law stipulates that anyone “owning or keeping [my emphasis] a dog or cat over 3 months of age shall have the [animal] vaccinated against rabies.”

For purposes of vaccination only, a cat covered under the law is one that spends at least part of the day in a residence inhabited by a human. In other words, cats that live strictly outdoors – those most at risk of becoming infected with rabies – are not required to be vaccinated.

Except for those cats, the fine for not keeping rabies vaccinations current is up to $300 per day.

For more information, read the Rabies Prevention and Control in Domestic Animals and Wildlife Act at www.pacode.com/secure/data/007/chapter16/chap16toc.html

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