jessicaml

Rabid Indoor-only Cat

jessicaml
July 8, 2012

My brother has a wife, 2 children and 3 (was 4) indoor cats. They've had a couple bats in their house and shooed them outside, thinking no harm done.

However, a couple days ago, one of their cats was showing multiple signs of rabies, so they had to have it euthanized. It's head was sent off for rabies testing, and they're still waiting to hear the test results (how long does that take?). One cat should be current on rabies shots (shelter adoptee, I think in the last 6 months), but I'm pretty sure the other two aren't current on vaccinations. They didn't worry about it since the cats were 'indoor only' cats.

First they were told they all needed rabies shots, but when they went to get them the doctor told them they didn't need rabies shots (presumably until the test results come back? No one recalls being bitten, but cats routinely bite and scratch in play, so it's hard to remember).

Has anyone been through this to know what happens if the cat tests positive for rabies? The family is already traumatized about losing their furry family member; I can't imagine the devastation if they have to euthanize the others, too. Also, they were told rabies shots cost $5000 (each, I believe), and I don't think insurance from SIL's new job will provide coverage yet. Does this sound right? I'm hoping there's a misunderstanding somewhere, or a public service option of some sort.

Also, how do you determine what constitutes exposure? The day before the cat was put down, there was a barbecue at my brother's house. I petted the allegedly-rabid cat; afterwards they said she was drooling and they thought she'd licked the soap, also that she may have a cold - so I washed my hands before touching my cat. My SIL's cat-loving mother very likely petted the cat, as well. My parents entered the home, but didn't pet the cat. Who, if anyone, needs shots?

I feel like I'm in a horror movie with some freaky fatal disease...except it's real! And I realize a doctor or vet would probably be the best person to talk to...but I'm hoping someone here has been through this and can offer insight in the meantime. There are enough other stressful things going on in our lives without worrying about this. If nothing else, maybe my narrative will convince other owners of indoor cats not to get lax on vaccinations (I know I'll be more vigilant!).

Here is a link that might be useful: Helpful thread on Rabies and Bats in the house

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