A long time friend is having a terrible time right now, and she’s given me permission to blog about her experiences in the hopes sharing her nightmare prevents similar situations for other people.
My friend has two young cats, both adopted from the local humane society as babies. Both cats were being treated at the time of their adoptions for minor communicable kitty diseases and could not finish the recommended vaccine protocols, but since they are strictly inside cats living high up in an apartment complex, having their inoculations caught up wasn’t a priority. I know lots of people with inside cats who opt out of getting their kitties fully vaccinated, so the story of these two little guys is certainly not out of the ordinary.
Fast forward a couple of years, and my friend arrived home late one night to find her apartment torn apart and her cats very worked up. In the middle of the floor was a bat, also a mammal, incidentally, which was not quite dead but certainly knocking on heaven’s door. She went to another room to collect herself and tend to the cats, and could not locate the bat when she returned.
The winged invader was not found for days, when it was finally discovered–very much dead–in its hiding place. Because most of us never jump to the worst case scenario, it was dealt with in the way we deal with most ucky things: a one way trip to the dumpster. Things seemed to be moving along like nothing happened until the normally snuggly male cat started showing aggression and biting. This was a huge problem because it was apparent from the mess in the apartment the night the bat snuck in that the cats had been chasing the bat and most likely had contact with it.
As it stands right now, both cats are under quarantine and being closely monitored for signs of rabies. Unfortunately, the only way to conclusive tell if the cats have been infected is to euthanize them and test their brains. Rather than take this route (which I’m told would be forced in many places other than Canada) my friend has opted to go through all the rigors of quarantining her cats at home rather than putting one down and testing it to see if the other was also likely infected, or having them both killed to be on the safe side.
To add insult to injury, my poor friend has to undergo the human rabies injections to protect her from the possibility of developing the disease. The current protocol in Canada requires five–that’s five–rounds of deep injections in her hip. She also required a tetanus shot.
This is a truly horrid situation. My friend’s cats were not vaccinated, a decision that many, many owners of indoor cats make because they feel the series of shots are unnecessary for pets that never go outdoors. It was not a decision made out of carelessness or a lack of affection for the cats, but it is a choice that has led to a mess that could result in the deaths of one or both of her treasured cats.
If you have cats that aren’t protected from deadly diseases, please be aware that exposure to highly-contagious pathogens like rabies can and does occur, even when it seems very unlikely. Sadly, the costs of treating illnesses in pets can be staggering, and many diseases in animals are fatal. While vaccinations do carry a small cost and trips to the vet with cats are inconvenient, the benefits of protecting your pets and preventing crushing tragedies certainly tip the scales.
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