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Dear Christopher Cat

I have an outside cat with an open wound. What should I do for him?

Christopher Responds

Take him to the veterinarian immediately.

Years ago, I sneaked outside and was attacked by a neighborhood cat. Mom treated my wound and gave me an antibiotic.

My rabies vaccination was current, so she gave me a rabies booster to trigger formation of additional antibodies, and she monitored me closely for 45 days.

Your veterinarian probably will do something similar.

On the other hand, if your cat’s rabies vaccination is not up to date, your veterinarian will treat his wound and urge you to quarantine him indoors for six months.

If your cat contracted rabies when he was wounded, he most likely will show clinical signs during the six-month quarantine period.

Typical signs of rabies include behavioral changes, vocalizing, drooling, loss of ability to eat and drink, pupils of unequal size, abnormal gait, loss of coordination and eventually paralysis.

However, if you see a change of any kind, contact your veterinarian immediately.

While you’re at the animal hospital, ask your veterinarian to run blood tests for feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus. If one or both tests are positive, your veterinarian will advise you about the special care your cat needs.

To prevent wounds, it’s best to keep your cat inside. For advice on how to make his indoor life enjoyable, request a free copy of column 2003-41 by e-mailing us or sending a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

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