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Does my cat need a rabies shot even though it is an inside cat?

Yes, most definitely! Cats are more prone to contract rabies for several reasons:

1. Cat bites are far more common than dog bites. Even the playful kitten represents an accidental injury risk.

2. Wild animals such as skunks, bats, foxes and raccoons tend to wander toward residential areas in search of food. Cats that roam at night are more likely to sustain injury from contact with these wild animals.

3. Stray cats are more numerous than stray dogs.

4. The cat, being a natural hunter, increases its exposure to rabies by seeking prey at every opportunity.

5. Many cats are unvaccinated.

The number of cases of rabies in cats has doubled in the United States in the past three years, according to Fromm Laboratories, a maker of rabies vaccine. In 1981, for the first time, more cases of rabies were reported in cats than dogs.

Rabies in dogs has been controlled by routine vaccinations and a licensing program. Rabies in cats is expected to become an increasingly serious problem throughout the United States, including Utah. So it is imperative that a similar vaccination program be adopted for cats.

Prevention is the key to protecting your cat. Vaccination is the only sure method for preventing the spread of this disease, which is no less deadly to humans. Keep your cat confined at all times. Do not let your animal run loose.

Take your cat to the veterinarian on a regular basis. Kittens should start their vaccination schedule at around four months of age. Cats need to have a yearly rabies booster shot. This will ensure the health of your cat and reduce the risk of spreading the rabies virus.

- If you have a question about health, behavior problems, laws, etc., regarding wild or domestic animals, please write Leslie Kelson-Probert, Salt Lake County Animal Services, 511 W. 3900 South, Salt Lake City UT 84123 or call her at 264-2247.