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Vets urge rabies vaccinations for all cats

May 8th, 2003, 06:29 AM
Vets urge rabies vaccinations for all cats

REGINA - You may have heard the adage curiosity killed the cat. Veterinarians say it's one reason why cats belong in a group with skunks, bats and dogs as potential rabies carriers.

Scrounger is 12 years old and lost an eye to glaucoma, but his owner Caroline Rincker says her cat is healthy and she keeps him that way with an annual vaccination shot that includes a guard against rabies.

"Cats can easily pick up rabies from what they hunt, from other animals and just from being outside," Rincker explains.

According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, a lot more cat owners need to vaccinate their pets against rabies. According to their statistics, 75 per cent of Canada's six million registered cats are not vaccinated and that doesn't include stray cats and unregistered farm cats, which means they're vulnerable to rabies.
"Cats have been an overlooked species for quite some time," says Veterinarian James Randall.

Cat rabies was overlooked by a Redvers area woman until she was bitten by one of her farm cats last summer. Luckily Dolores Sandborn received quick treatment, but she could have died.

Veterinarians say bats, skunks, raccoons and foxes are the principal carriers of rabies and a cat's natural instinct to stalk its prey puts them at risk of coming into contact with a rabies infected carrier.

That's why Canadian veterinarians are endorsing Canada's first National Feline Rabies Awareness campaign and telling pet owners that even indoor cats can get rabies."Because it's perceived they have very little risk potential, however we have bat rabies in our province. So bats, if they're unhealthy, can come right into your home through an open window or door," says Randall.

Cats still make up a small percentage of rabies carriers, but Veterinarians say that without a rabies shot, a cat is at risk and so is the public. That's why Rincker keeps coming back here, even though Scrounger would rather not make the trip.

Reporter: Dean Gutheil