Rabies Shot Side Effects in Cats

Jul 16, 2017

The rabies vaccine is not infrequently connected with side effects when given to cats. The recommendation is to give cats their rabies shot between 8-12 weeks with a yearly booster. Over a lifetime, this can add up to quite a few vaccines. Cats can have side effects from a rabies vaccine even if they did not have a bad reaction to a rabies vaccine in the past.

Side effects from the rabies vaccine include vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, sleepiness, lethargy, swelling, partial paralysis, shock, cancer and death.

Earth Clinic readers have been reporting a number a side effects from rabies vaccines and rabies booster shots for over a decade.

Alice from Arizona says, "My 7 month old kitten died last week after receiving his rabies booster. Immediately after the injection he started vomiting. The vet administered the anti injection but the kitten continued declining. They tried CPR 3 times but he did not recover and died."

Kleand, from London, UK had a cat with a severe rabies vaccine reaction: "Our cat was given a Rabies vaccination and went into anaphalactic shock. She threw up about 25 times and had copious diarrhea, but because the vet called the vaccine company and they said that they'd never heard of an adverse reaction to the vaccine. Our vet assumed she was simply traumatized by her vet appointment. It wasn't until her face swelled up that we decided the vaccine company had misrepresented the truth, and it took two very expensive appointments (including an emergency appointment at two in the morning) to stabilize her."

Minimizing Risks of Side Effects

Know the laws where you live. Do not give your pets vaccination at ages younger than recommended ages. Do not give your pet a vaccination if he is sick or recovering from sickness. For the rabies vaccine, see if you can get a rabies titer and check the status of immunity in your cat to make sure the vaccine is needed.

Before you take your pet to get a vaccine, have remedies on hand at home (and maybe in the car for the ride home!) to deal with a reaction should your cat have a reaction. Early treatment of side effects is ideal.

If you cat or kitten has experienced side effects from a rabies vaccine, please let us know.

Read on below to see what side effects and experiences other Earth Clinic readers have experienced. To learn remedies to treat side effects from vaccinations in cats, please visit this Earth Clinic page.

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects  

Share your thoughts with our readers
Write a review

Posted by Wendy (West Burlington, Iowa ) on 07/15/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My 16 week old kitten had gotten her rabies shot and was lathargic, confused loss of appetite and threw up. She received her shots on Monday and today is Saturday and her appetite has increased a little but she has no energy. We just got her at the humane society she was a little terror running everywhere playing with my other cat and now all she wants to do is sleep, eat a little, and go to the bathroom then back to sleeping. In order to adopt her they made an appointment for us to get her checked out and get her shots. I have been in contact with the veterinary and they gave her an antibiotic. If I had to do it all over again I would not have taken her back for her rabie shot. We miss her energy and her attitude now she only wants to sleep.

Posted by Lawrence J. (Rotonda West Florida) on 06/03/2017
0 out of 5 stars

In mid-May of 2017, I had to agree to vaccinate my 12 year old cat William prior to grooming for Rabies and FVRCP. Following that time, William has developed highly elevated lethargy, sleepiness, appetite depression, loss of motor skills ( limping on all four legs) that is definitely appearing to be progressive. He now cannot jump up on the table. I've read in another article that Rabies facilitated nervous system side effects can appear up to 45-days after administering the Rabies vaccine. (By the way, William had lethargic effects and swelling in 2016 with the vaccine for weeks.) I need your recommendations before I lose my cat.

Best regards,


Replied by Theresa
Mpls., Mn

Hey Lawrence,

You might try cleansing with activated charcoal or bentonite clay, however you may get the best results for vaccine damage repair with a holistic vet :


Posted by Alyanna Ocampo (Las Piñas City, Philippines) on 04/28/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My 1 year old cat just got his very first anti rabies shot 3 days ago. Since then she has been meowing loud and lying down all day more than usual. Im not sure if its the side effects or she's sick.

Posted by Bonnie (Erie Pa) on 04/24/2017
0 out of 5 stars

Adopted our 5 year old Maine Coon from a shelter. He was very healthy for the year we have had him. Took him in for his yearly where he was given Rabie/Distemper Combo and then Distemper Booster 3 weeks after. This was two months ago and all he does is sleep, has a limp after laying a long time, doesn't want to play anymore, losing patches of hair. We took him back. They did blood work twice. No Virus present, No Leukemia but Kidney numbers are up so Vet prescribed special food for Kidney problems. You can't tell me the vaccines didn't do this to our cat. We are more than upset and feel like we took him to be poisoned. I am going to get the Milk Thistle and give it a try as mentioned in one of the posts. Someone needs to look into the poisoning of our pets with these vaccines!! Then after that they can look at why so many of our children have AUSTISM....HMMMM could it be all the vaccines they get??

Replied by Maggie

I have used homeopathic THUYA on several pets with good results. Both were used a long time after the vaccines. One was lethargic and not eating for weeks, I thought I would lose him. After many vet calls and visits I tried Thuya. Twenty minutes later he was up playing and ate his food. For pets I dissolve the pellets in water and use a dosing syringe. I have a book "Homeopathic Care for Dogs and Cats" It recommends some other treatments depending on symptoms.

Posted by Butternut (Nj) on 04/20/2017
0 out of 5 stars

Took my 7 year old indoor cat for her routine check up/vaccines. After receiving her 3 year rabies vaccine and distemper she starting vomiting for over an hour. Then she had a bowel movement on the sofa and became very sleepy. Poor thing. The next morning she came up to me and just peed right in front of me. Took her back to the vet that very next day( within 15 hours of her vaccine) and they gave her a cortisone shot. I had to keep her n the laundry room when I wasn't home and at night. She would hide behind the washer. It has been 3 days now and all she does is sleep. She is back in the main part of the house. She has been eating thankfully, but is not herself at all. I thought I was being a responsible pet owner by getting her vaccinated. I questioned if she needed them being an indoor cat and of course they said yes. I will never vaccinate an indoor pet ever again.

Posted by Angelina (New York ) on 03/14/2017
0 out of 5 stars

I had to give the rabies vaccine to my 7-month old Ragdoll kitten in order to travel with him. He is normally a very calm kitty who plays enough to stay active and hardly ever causes mischief. An hour after the vaccine he started acting completely crazy. He would go from sitting calmly to dashing up and down the house. It was like he was seeing things. He would attack and pounce on the empty air and then try to find whatever it was that he thought he had seen. He never used to be aggressive with me and now he is more prone to scratching me. Lastly he never used to meow unless he needed food and now he meows all the time for no reason. This has been going on for a week and he threw up which has never done before. Vomiting is a common effect of the rabies vaccine but I haven't seen anyone else mention or notice their cat's active ness or aggressive behaviour to have increased.

Please research carefully before doing this vaccine, there are clearly too many cases of unusual and even fatal side effects.

Posted by Candice (Virginia) on 02/28/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My 8 yr old Cat, I adopted, from the Animal Shelter, was seen by a Vet 2 days before I adopted her, I brought her home and she seemed fine, except the pupils of her eyes were dialated, and it seemed strange to me, then I connected the dots and realized this was all from her rabies shot, she received 2 days before I took her home, she was fine, and then in about 2 days she became sleepy, sneezing and coughing alot, walks very slow, and all she wants to do is sleep all day, she is eating and drinking a little, but she has a hard time breathing. kinda worried about that, it's been 12 days since her rabies shot.

Posted by Mom2twinz2 (Hot Springs, Ar) on 01/04/2017
0 out of 5 stars

Rabies Vaccine killed my cat

Went in for unusual bleeding/bruising in belly dec 5. Blood count ok. Told to come back dec 10 for re-check and to update rabies. Day after Christmas, dec 26, she's falling over, peeing in the floor, can't focus. Took her to vet. They did blood count, her hematocrit had dropped from normal 40's to 12.9!!! WTF! A week in ICU, a blood transfusion, up to 19 hct then back to 11.1 hct. Time to bring my baby home. She died in my arms tonight after fighting for her life for two nights at home. And she struggled for a couple of hours, fighting deaths door. She was my daughter's baby for 11 years, and my best friend and constant companion for the last 2 plus years.

Posted by Nina (Ct) on 11/30/2016
0 out of 5 stars

My longhaired black cat experienced paralysis days after receiving a rabies vaccine. First the one back leg then both - then the front paws which became stiff and it progressed to his ability to swallow within days. I lost him on December 30 last year. He was such a beautiful boy - I will never allow a vet to vaccinate my animals again!

Replied by Brian Wagner
Southington, Ct
0 out of 5 stars

My 8 year old domestic short hair had a similar problem. Three days after the vaccine he lost the use of his back legs, had trouble breathing, vomited and tried to hide himself to die. This new vaccine killed him.

Posted by Pam (Brooklyn, Ny) on 11/24/2016
0 out of 5 stars

After my kitten received rabies vaccine he became paralyzed in his back legs. A week later he still can't move lower body.

Replied by Dr. Christina

A homeopathic veterinarian is the surest way to resolve this - www.theAVH.org.

At home - Reiki, acupressure, TTouch, ccmrt (muscle release therapy), HTA (healing touch for animals), maybe vaccine detox (spirit essences).

Replied by 4paws
Ontario, Canada

I would suggest 1 drop of liquid milk thistle (available from health food store) mixed in a little food once a day. As the milk thistle is preserved in alcohol, put 1 teaspoonful of boiled water in a bowl, add one drop of the milk thistle and allow the alcohol to dissipate for a few seconds and then mix in a little food. The milk thistle gently cleans out the liver which is likely toxic from the vaccination. A friend's dog was paralyzed from poison. The vet specialist did everything they knew but nothing worked. After 1 dose of milk thistle (this dog was older so had 10 drops), the dog was up walking and happy! Milk thistle is my go to remedy for everyone! :)

I hope your kitty recovers quickly!

Posted by Xenot (Washington State) on 10/02/2016
0 out of 5 stars

Both of my cats received their 2nd annual rabies vaccine. The younger cat, a 16-month old Maine Coon kitten is doing just fine. However, the 14-year-old tabby is not. He already has health issues, such as arthritis, asthma, and an enlarged heart and takes a corticosteroid and benazepril for 2 of those issues. He is now laying on my bed and is very lethargic. He is not normally very active because of his age, the meds he takes, his health issues and the fact that the prednisolone has rendered him very over-weight, but I can tell he is definitely not himself. Usually, when he is laying down and I touch him, he purrs loudly immediately. He is not purring, his eyes look distant and he is a bit warm to the touch. He is very lethargic. It has been about 12 hours after the shot. I live in a state that requires a rabies vaccine in order to license my pet. I think I will have to get some kind of document stating that my cat is reactive and should be exempt. I am not going to put him through this again. Last year, he was fine after his shot. Apparently, there is no way to tell how your cat will react from year to year. When I rescued him from the Humane Society, it was before the economic downturn and I was in a much better financial position. I do not have the funds to take him to the vet if his health deteriorates from the effects of the shot. I'm very, very upset. I feel like I paid money to have him poisoned.

Replied by Randa

So sorry for what you and your cat are going through. I am very much against the rabies shot because I lost my beloved three year old cat because of Sarcoma due to the vaccine. However, it is obligatory by law over here. I have 28 cats and I have stopped using the rabies shot. I also give no vaccines to the elderly cats. Anyway, I vaccinate the younger ones once every other year. They are all doing fine . In your case I would ask the vet to give me a paper stating that my cat is elderly and allergic to this vaccine, so that you can get your pet licence and spare the cat. We don't have a pet license over here. I have no idea how that works or why it is necessary. I hope your cat gets better. Best wishes to you both.

Posted by Peter (Nashville Tn) on 09/02/2016
0 out of 5 stars

Our cat had his one year rabies shot this afternoon.. tonight about 6 hours later..he won't use the litter box, blows out his nose at it. We tried to put him in it and he acted like it was water. Then he pooped and went pee on the bath mat.

Replied by Suseeq
Sydney, Australia

Please please before any vaccination, put your animals on vit c for least a week.

Posted by Lori Johnson (Olympia Washington) on 07/11/2016
0 out of 5 stars

I too was forced to give my cat the rabies vaccine. Our state requires it. He is a white cat, which white cats are more sensitive to things than non-white cats. Both him and his white sister had reactions to kittens shots so I was reluctant to allow them to give him a rabies shot. 2 weeks after the shot he was lethargic and two days after that he stopped eating. Took him to the vet and all his blood work was way off. He went unconscious and was twitching. It was the most horrible thing to witness. He had to be put to sleep. I will never allow his sister to ever get a rabies shot. They can lock me up and fine me, it won't happen. Yes I know it's a rare occurrence but that doesn't matter one bit when you lose your baby.

Replied by Suseeq
Sydney, Australia

Lori, I am sorry for your loss. I only give my pets vaccines in the first 2 years of their life then no more. I don't believe in putting chemicals in their body I know you have rabies there in the US so it's probably unavoidable, but your loss is sad.

Posted by Kim (Miami, Fl) on 03/26/2016
0 out of 5 stars

I took my healthy 12 year-old cat in to get the rabies vaccine December 2015 so that I could travel with her to Hawaii. Less than a week later, she was indicating pain in the right hip area where the vet had administered the shot. It was hard for her to get up and move around without being in pain. Steroids helped the pain a lot. X-rays showed nothing wrong. In the next few weeks and soon months, she lost use of her tail, and was no longer able to use her back right leg. She would often pee on herself while going to the bathroom and not be able to clean herself properly so we gave her lots of baths. By 3 months she was extremely lethargic and had to be carried around everywhere. After her worst day, Makita passed away peaceful in her sleep (March 2016). I regret getting her the shot to be with me in Hawaii. She had many more lives to live. The vet never revealed potential side effects. I am devastated.

Replied by Kim
Miami, Fl


I am writing to share my experience with the rabies vaccine. I took my healthy 12 year-old cat, Makita to be vaccinated December 2015 for rabies. She seemed fine until less than a week later, she began losing motor function in her right hip area where she had received the injection, was complaining of pain, and had no movement in her tail. I had no idea what was wrong and took her to the vet for X-rays, but nothing showed. The vet put her on steroids, which seemed to help, but as I weaned her off of them, the pain was still apparent. Over the next couple months, her symptoms got worse and she was no longer able to walk unassisted. I'd have to carry her to the litter box, and she'd often pee on herself so we'd give her many baths. Her health declined very rapidly this past week and she became very lethargic, unable to move or even lift her head. Last night she passed away. Makita was a very healthy cat before the vaccination with many more years to live. I am devastated that this happened and wish I had more information at the time. Please use this information for your records to inform others. Thank you.

Replied by Dee
Burke, Va
0 out of 5 stars

I took my 8 year old cat in for her rabies and distemper shot. A week later, she is moving very slowly. Seems to want to sleep a lot, is hiding from me. I'm worried. I found this site, thought I would add my story.

I am so sorry for the death of your pets. Has something changed with the rabies distemper shots? 3 years ago she had no problem that I can remember.

Posted by Rockrose (Rockland, Maine) on 08/20/2015
0 out of 5 stars

My 19 year old Maine Coon cat recently received his annual combo vaccination (distemper and rabies). Over a period of days he gradually became weak, could barely stand up and lost interest in food. He vomited several times which wasn't that alarming because he was always prone to barfing. The weakness and anorexia were very unusual for him. I gave him fluids a little at a time with an eyedropper, an appetite stimulant and a tiny amount of antacid every day. He didn't eat much but would take tiny amounts of food from my hand. At first the only things that he would eat were treats. I offered him all kinds of food and finally he did show a strong interest in eating raw fish. So he got to eat raw salmon until he would eat other things. It took a few weeks for his appetite to return to normal. He'd lost weight and is now gaining it back very slowly. I believe that he had a toxic reaction to the vaccination causing his kidneys to be overwhelmed or shut down for awhile. I talked with a friend who lives in the same region about it. She told me that the exact same thing happened to her 8 year old cat a few months ago, with extreme weakness and lack of appetite starting the week after getting the combo vaccine with the illness continuing for a month. I wonder how common this sort of adverse reaction is in cats or perhaps if the 2015 vaccine is bad.

Replied by Becky
Lincoln, Il
0 out of 5 stars

I took my 8 year old cat in last Friday to get his yearly shots, since then, he has been vomiting his food up, everything and everytime. I Know the vet will never agree that there is a reaction to the shots, but if an animal doesn't do this regularly and then they do it after a shot or medication, duh, that is the cause. What can we do????

Replied by Hilary
Philadelphia, Pa
0 out of 5 stars

My cat also had a similar reaction. The vaccine company, after multiple contacts, admitted that this was a "rare" but known side effect. My cat recovered, but now a year later, she has complete heart block secondary to scarring on the heart. I question whether this is related to the combo vaccination.