Feeding Feeral Cats – and Racoons??
Woman in Wilmerding Receiving Rabies Preventative Injections
A homeowner in Allegheny County who feeds a feral cat colony observed two cats being attacked by a raccoon. The home owner rescued the injured cats and brought them into her house. She nursed them, and they appeared to recover, but three weeks later one of the cats attacked her aggressively. The cat was euthanized and brought to the Allegheny County Health Department where it tested positive for rabies. The second cat was also rabies positive.
She has her own cat and a dog in the house whose vaccination history is being investigated, but they will likely be quarantined for six months as a precaution. The woman underwent the full series of post-rabies-exposure injections and immunizations and should be fine since she was started immediately.
Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of an infected mammal in the last seven days of it’s life. Bites from an infected animal are the most common means of transmission, but getting scratched by a saliva soaked paw, or even just having saliva drip on an area of irritated skin can provide a route of entry for the virus.
Not all rabid animals are aggressive and attack. They can also just appear sick and lethargic, like the young kitten brought into our office in 2009 that died and was tested positive for rabies. Our staff had nursed the kitten, so we all received boosts of our rabies protection. Nineteen members of one local neighborhood had interacted with this kitten and received the full injection series.
Several of our clients tell me stories of feeding the neighborhood feral cats, and how they often see raccoons coming to their feeding stations. Because of the significant incidence of rabies in our western PA wild animal population I urge everyone to be extremely cautious and not to attempt to handle or interact with the ferals you feed.
Some of our clients feed and maintain a small colony of ferals that were trapped, neutered, vaccinated, and released, which puts these cat lovers at lower risk. Best to always maintain prudent restraint when dealing with all feral cats.
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