Rabies Shot Side Effects in Cats

Mar 20, 2018

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  

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Posted by Holly (Windham, Maine) on 03/20/2018
0 out of 5 stars

I had 2 perfectly healthy sister kitty's just under a year old. Brought them to vet recently to get spayed and have 1st rabies vaccine. They were confused and lethargic the day they came home, not much appetite or thirst since, they didn't seem to use the litter box much and they seemed to stay hidden and not want to come out unusual for them.on day 6 they didn't move much, fur was messy and looked unclean and I noticed labored breathing. Brought them to the vet the next morning and on the way they urinated in crate with a little blood. Vet new they were serious and he did X-rays and found blood in their chests!! About an hr later they both died!! He claimed he had no idea and suggested rat poison!? I don't own any such thing and I know in my gut it was something at the vet!! Most likely vaccine reaction!!! Makes me so angry!!!!

Posted by Lisa (Nazareth, Pa) on 03/11/2018
0 out of 5 stars

My cat has gone into late stage kidney failure since her rabies shot 3 weeks ago.

Will thuja help now, and what is the dosage? Rabies shot is a protein, her kidneys couldn't handle it....in just 3 weeks she went from jumping around my house, eating and drinking well, to bring lame and not eating and drinking.

Posted by Yuri (Philippines) on 02/04/2018
0 out of 5 stars

My 6-month old kitty had rabies boost shot and now he couldn't eat, drink and poop. I saw a little poop like a small dot and its wet. He always sleeps and heard him growl sometimes. It's been 18hrs since he had his vaccines (4in1 and rabies booster). Is this normal? This is the first time he had reactions with vaccine. I believe this is caused by the rabies booster. By the way, Yuri is an indoor cat. He had his last vaccine today as part of his scheduled vet visit since I got him.

Posted by Marissa (New York ) on 01/30/2018
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Well, my baby girl October she's 2 and a half. About a mouth ago I got her rabies vaccine because it's against the law here if they don't have it and the vet wanted it done as well. About a week and a half later I found a lump ( January 11th) I was scared. I went to 2 vets As I explained to the vet she received her rabies shot and it was there after. She told me to wait about 4 to 6 weeks before coming back because most of the time it goes down. But it's now the 30th of January and it's still there. It seems to feel different smaller in ways. I feel it every day because I love her dearly. I'm hoping it will get smaller as the days go on. It worries me a ton because there's many side effects to this shot why is it a law to get them if we have a chance of losing our bestfriend. I hope my cat heals. Reading everyone's comments saddens me because I don't want to lose my baby. It feels like it's our faults, all I ask as a loving human being of all animals is to make the rabies vaccine safer. Safe enough for humans because animals life are just as important. Think about if you would give this shot to your kids, because a lot of people cherish their animals as they would a child. Please make vaccines safer. I love my cat more then anything and I would do anything to keep her safe but doing the right thing for her shouldn't be a disunion to think twice about. Your reply would be nice. If not I hope you find safer ways for vaccines and I hope my cat will be okay as well as all the other animals going through a hard time as well. Thank you.

Posted by Angie (Denver, Colorado) on 01/24/2018
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My 14month old cat just got his yearly rabies vaccine and his eyes are showing some swelling. Is that normal?

Posted by Merlin (Chicago) on 11/28/2017
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My 6 year old neutered male DSH got a rabies shot on Monday and the next day his voice went from normal to absent or weak croaking when he tried to vocalize. This was sudden onset right after the rabies vac. A week later now, and his voice is slowly returning.

Posted by Katie (Ca) on 11/21/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My 1 year old cat just got his rabbie shot up to date and since we brought him home hes been puking and hes really confussed and walking weiredly hes really warm and hes lower back keeps twicking. I don't whats going on, this has never happened.

Posted by Badseed33 (Minneapolis, Minnesota) on 11/07/2017
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My 4 month old kitten had gotten a rabies vaccination yesterday. And now she is very aggressive and wont let me trim her nails or anything. She runs away from me hissing and scratching. Was that because of the rabies vaccine. Please help me. One more thing she scratching up my house really bad.

Replied by Theresa
Mpls., Mn

Hey Badseed33,

You might try homeopathic Silicea and/or thuja for the vaccine reaction. You might also consider dosing activated charcoal - might have to mix it into a can of tuna to get her to take it. I will say that having a single 4 month old kitten is a real challenge. I urge you to consider a second kitten of the same age so that your first kitten can socialize. At that young age kitties realize that if they bite their playmate the playmate bites back, and that it does not feel good. In this way they learn to inhibit their bite when playing with super tender skinned humans. Please report back!

Replied by Jennifer
Minneapolis, Mn

Hello Badseed33

I am also in the Minneapolis area and my dog is having problems after a recent 3 year rabies vaccine. I've been trying to figure out what to do myself! I will do a separate post with more details about my personal story. Hope your kitty is feeling better!

Posted by Kay (Mt) on 10/25/2017
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Reporting bad reaction to rabies shot in my 6 month old kitten. Took her 3 weeks to eat well and start playing again.

Posted by Ventot (Philippines) on 10/24/2017
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Worried about my cat... How long it will last for a cats swollen after having an an anti rabies shot for 2 weeks ago.

Replied by Theresa
Mpls., Mn

Hey Ventot,

A swollen paw does not sound normal at all - please see your vet.

Posted by Alice (Pa) on 08/29/2017
0 out of 5 stars

I hope this is how you're supposed to post to a conversation this is for the rabies vaccine side effects. I'm trying to tell my story and the side effect my cat is suffering right now. On August 20th of this year I took my 20 year old cat to the vet for his checkup and blood work he has hyperthyroidism. The vet insisted on giving him a rabies shot. It is now August 29th and my baby can barely walk up until this morning he was eating fine right now he doesn't want to eat for me. I read something on this site about milk thistle, but I don't understand what kind to get or how much to give. I'm so upset because he was fine and now all the vet says to me as well you know he is old. I had to contact a holistic vet in Colorado because there aren't any near me and he recommended dmg and lyssin. Everything I read about lysine says that you have to administer it within hours it's now 9 days later, so I'm not sure it will help him. If there's anyone out there that can help me save my baby he was fine now he's not I'm scared and disgusted.

Replied by Alice
0 out of 5 stars

I want to report a death from the rabies vaccine I wrote her post on the 29th reporting side effects, but I lost him yesterday the 2nd of September. The emergency vet insists that it wasn't the vaccine that he must likely had cancer, but we had no signs and no warnings. So my theory is the vaccine either triggered a dormant or slow-moving cancer and made it rapidly spread.

EC: We are so sorry for your loss, Alice.

Posted by Megan C. (Clarksville, Tn) on 08/27/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My kitten, Lucie, is about 10 to 14 weeks old. She was found in an abandoned house and no one was 100 percent sure of her age. We were told by the people that found her that she was 6 weeks but when we took her to the vet at the first available appointment over a week later, the vet suggested that she was actually just at 6 weeks. If that was the case, than she was on solid food way too early by the people who found her and was possibly malnourished. I say all that because I don't know if she had a bad reaction to the rabies vaccine because of her unknown age and being to young or because she was weened to early to have a fully developed immune system.

At "6 weeks" she recieved her first round of vaccine and deworming, and addition vaccines every 3 weeks for a total 3 visits. The last visit she recieved her Rabies vaccine. She was very small when we got her and was only 4.7 pounds at the final visit when she received the rabies vaccination. Within less than four days we had to bring her back because everyday following the vaccination, she was eating less and less. We tried two different dry and wet foods, treats, hours of sitting and coercing and the amount she ate continued to declined and led to vomiting. She had lost a full pound when we brought her back and the vet ran test and stated that she didn't find anything but it's probably a reaction to the vaccination. They gave us stimulant pills to give her every 48 hours and Advaita supplement powder to sprinkle on her food. Which seemed counter productive since she wasn't eating anything! The next day she was basically bones and the vet didnt offer any tips when called back so I decided to get a syringe, mix the powder and pill with a little milk and unfortunately, force her to drink it using the syringe. She thought I was the most evil person for scruffing and forcing her to take the medicine and powder but I was scared if I didn't, she would be dead by the end of the week. I was could feel her ribs, shoulder blades and thigh bones but the vet seemed unphased even though she was already less than 5 pounds before the vaccine and was strinking rapidly.

After staying home and watching her, and sitting up at night to get her to eat at least 5 pieces of dry food every 4 hours along with the meds, she is finally showing signs of life again. She's prompting herself to eat and eating a little more every time. Still has not started to play again and still is sleeping a lot a week later but I hope she fully recovers. Lucie is an inside cat and I don't know if she will react this way when its time again or if I even should get it since she is strictly an inside cat. She almost lost all her weight!

What should I do in a year from now?

Posted by Shelly (Clemmons, Nc) on 08/25/2017
0 out of 5 stars

We adopted sibling cats from AARF about 3 weeks ago. One of them had the rabies shot and the other did not. I was told that the female cat didn't have her shot but they somehow had the paper work mixed up because she had a rabies form and tag but the male cat did not. I had to take them back in to AARF yesterday for the shot. They have veterinarians that come in every Thursday to give shots. They looked at all the paperwork we were given and determined that the female had her shot and the male did not. They gave him his rabies shot and not long after getting home, maybe 2 hours, he started vomiting everywhere then itching to the point where he was scratching his skin above his eyes raw, his face and eyes also got swollen.

I called the emergency vet, actually 2 different ones, and was told by one that this was an emergency and I should bring him in. I called a 2nd one and they said it sounded like a normal reaction as long as he was not having trouble breathing. They did say I could give him benedryl but we did not have any and it was 11:00 pm. We kept an eye on him all night and he seems to be feeling better today bu still not back to his playful self. His sister sure does miss him playing with her.

Posted by Darleen (Buffalo, Ny) on 08/18/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My cat is 17 years old. He was in perfect health until he got a rabies vaccine. 45 days later he started having seizures. I would like to know if they is anything that could help repair damage from this vaccine and if anything can cure the seizures.

Replied by Theresa
Mpls., Mn

Hey Darleen,

Vaccine reactions can show up right away or take time; 45 days isn't unusual to see a vaccine reaction. That said, at 17 years old there can be many reasons for your cat to have seizures. My advice is to take your cat to the vet to try to determine the cause of the seizures. Idiopathic epilepsy is one possibility. Doing a blood panel is minimally invasive an can provide helpful information and can point out problems with the liver and kidneys which can and do cause seizures. If liver or kidney problems show up your vet can help you with dietary changes that will give your cat added quality of life.

Posted by Paula (Ga) on 08/02/2017
0 out of 5 stars

Took 6 yr old very healthy, Happy kitty to vet for slight twitch in ear. She got a clean bill of health however. They insisted she have Rabies shot which I did not want. When we got home she threw up and has been very lethargic for a week. I have of course taken her back to Vet 2 more times for steroid and annahestimine, no change. Full lab results taken, Vet says all is normal except white blood cells are 3.1 low. They are denying that the shot caused this and saying she must have had something already. How can we treat it if they don't acknowledge it. They even suggested that I asked for Shot, they don't are not the law. All false which makes getting proper care impossible if Vet is not trustworthy. 7 days later small change in her but she is not the same fun loving, very affectionate kitty. I am beyond heartbroken and worried. Can someone please advise me?

Replied by Maria

My 15 year old cat had a rabies last month - after never having a reaction to them - her eyes were rolling into her skull, she couldn't stand and her tongue just hung out like she was panting. Rushed her right back to the vet where they took their sweet time, finally administering benadryl and fluids and we were sent home. She seemed to be doing a little better, but she's still not anywhere near she was. She has other issues - so she is syringe fed most of the time - so I have been putting probiotics (from milk kefir, water kefir and fermented veggies) into her food along with activated charcoal to see if it can help pull out more of the toxins. (This is all without the approval of my vet - who believes this is unnecessary.) I was up all night worried about my cat last night - hoping to get her back to the vet Friday because I don't think I can stand it. Please be vigilant...if something doesn't seem right - keep bugging them.

Replied by Suseeq
Sydney Australia

Please put this kitty on a course of vitamin C.