How long can a Cat live if it has Rabies?

Rabies is a contagious disease that can be life-threatening to you and your cat’s life if not looked into immediately. In many cases, if not fatal, it can significantly reduce your cat’s lifespan. This is why, if you suspect that your cat has rabies it is essential to get your vet involved in the treatment as soon as possible. So, how long can your cat live if it has rabies?

This is a question that a vet could answer most accurately because it differs from cat to cat. But in this article, we will walk you through all the factors that contribute to your cat’s quality of life if it has rabies, and how you can prolong its life.

how long can a cat live if it has rabies

What is rabies and why is it fatal to a cat’s life?

Before diving into the question at hand, you must know what rabies is and why it has its severe effect on cats.

Rabies is a disease that is transmitted through the saliva of cats, dogs, bats, and skunks. It is usually transferred through a bite, where the saliva gets the chance to enter the prey’s body and spread the virus throughout.

If your cat has rabies, you will experience a gradual change in its behavior and not the good kind. It may become extremely aggressive, lose all its affection in a matter of days, and may even start biting if you get too near.

At this stage, you should take appropriate measures for the safety of your cat because if it bites you, the virus will transfer to your body and cause significant harm.

Moreover, there are different stages of rabies that a cat goes through. These are important to know so you know how to deal with your cat appropriately and to know how long it has left to live.

Symptoms of rabies

A cat with rabies typically goes through 3 stages of symptoms that will most likely keep progressing for the worst. During this time, you will notice changes in your mental and physical health and you must be prepared to deal with them.

The 3 symptoms are:

Prodromal Stage

This is the first stage that your cat goes through after acquiring rabies. Around this time, you will gradually start seeing changes in your cat’s behavior. Some notable changes are:

  • More aggression
  • Over-friendliness
  • Constant frustration
  • Excessively shy

Some say this phase is similar to a transition from extrovert to introvert or vice versa, depending on your cat. But it is enough to alarm you about the arising symptoms of rabies in your cat.

Keep in mind that these symptoms can be the result of the virus incubating in your cat’s body for some time, it can vary from a few days to a few weeks. The signs of rabies don’t immediately show up after the infection.

Furious Stage

The furious stage is the most prominent when your cat has rabies. The biggest behavioral change in your cat is noticed during this time. The symptoms are:

  • A lot of drooling
  • Too furious at the smallest of things

Drooling is a sign that your cat is facing an illness, and you should never take it lightly. Sometimes your cat may drool when it’s happy, but it’s completely different from when it is sick.

At the furious stage, your cat can also have some premature breathing issues, as well as muscle dysfunctions in its mouth cavity. Problems in swallowing saliva and food can also arise. Some cats also pass away from seizures.

This is also the stage where your beloved cat becomes dangerous, and you will have to keep your patience and distance from it for the sake of your safety.

Paralytic Stage

Most cats do not survive after reaching this stage. Either they will fall victim to paralysis and face death, or they will acquire some sort of terminal illness like a respiratory failure after which they don’t have much time left.

Some cats move directly from stage 1 to stage 3, completely skipping stage 2. This stage usually occurs around a week after the first stage, and due to the hyperactivity of the cat, you will notice that its pupils are constantly dilated.

Your cat will also be in a lot of pain throughout these rabies symptom stages. While it’s true that you should try everything to keep your feline friend alive, sometimes, death is kinder for the little creature than going through unexplainable pain.

How long can a cat live if it has rabies?

There is no definite answer to this question. The main countdown starts when the virus has been activated within the body.

This means that if your cat has been bitten and is still not affected by the rabies virus after 6 weeks, then the chances of living longer are good. But as soon as it gets rabies, that’s when the symptoms arise and it has a few days to live.

Most vet experts predict that a cat with rabies can live up to 7 days after the symptoms appear.

As usual, this varies with your cat, its health, age, and the time it got the bite wound.

After 7 days, the virus is contracted by other organs of the body such as and prevents functionality, which leads the cat to go into a coma or death.

How to treat rabies?

Rabies is treatable, but there’s a catch. In most cases, after the adoption or the birth of a cat, the owners are required to get the cat vaccinated.

In many states in the US, this is mandatory for the cat’s safety. Even after the first mandatory shot, you are supposed to get your kitten’s regular half-yearly vaccine so it stays protected from rabies if affected.

So one way to keep cats safe from rabies is regular vaccination. The second way is to ensure that your cat stays inside your home when there is a rabies outbreak.

However, rabies cannot be treated when it has been acquired by the cat and the symptoms have started emerging. This is why it is vital to stay up-to-date with your cats’ rabies vaccination at all times, especially when a rabies outbreak is upon you.

Also, try not to keep stray cats as pets, because they could already have the virus when you take them in. This can be risky for your family and any other pets in the house.


First off, make sure your cat’s rabies vaccinations are up to date. Many countries have laws about what age the cat should be vaccinated by.

Many countries require a 6-month quarantine after being bitten by a wild animal. If your cat is in this situation, you will need to contact professional pet care services to make sure your cat is quarantined the right way.

However, if the bite is caused by a fellow pet in the house, then a 10-days quarantine should be observed and this can be done in the owner’s house as well.

This is simply to ensure that no other cat or animal is affected by rabies, and if after the quarantine your cat is healthy, then it should live a healthy and normal life.

Don’t forget to vaccinate your cat even if it hasn’t acquired rabies after the quarantine. No cat is immune to the rabies virus unless vaccinated.

If you or another family member gets bitten by a cat with rabies, immediately contact a physician to get yourself checked, and vaccinated against rabies if needed.


In conclusion, rabies is very dangerous, and if your cat isn’t vaccinated, the chances of survival are very low.

But, if you keep your cat vaccinated and it gets exposed to rabies, it has a much greater chance of staying immune and living a healthy life.

However, your cat has more or less 7 days to live if it has rabies, and in the worst possible case, it may die sooner and transmit the disease to someone else.

So if your cat has rabies, there may not be much you can do, but always make sure you protect your other pets and family members before letting them succumb to rabies as well.

Lastly, if your cat gets bitten by a wild or even a pet animal, make sure you contact the vet immediately before assuming that your cat is okay. An early visit to the vet can save your feline friend’s life.

Stay safe!

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