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Rabies Rarely Caused by Cats in USA

Photo: bakroots
Rabies is a fatal disease. It is useful for us to know the major wildlife reservoirs for rabies - meaning what species of animal carry the disease in a specific geographic area and which are the most likely to transmit the disease to people. The table below helps, I hope. It has been compiled from the Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook Third Edition 2008.

It appears to me that cats are very low risk in North America (I am prepared to be corrected). Bats are high risk. It seems that transmission of the disease might take place through airborne aerosols from bats (1). It is obligatory to vaccinate a cat against rabies in the USA and it applies to indoor cats as well.


reservoir for rabies - these overlap

Midwest, Southwest and
California, USA


New England and East, USA


New York, Eastern Canada, Alaska
and Southeast, USA


Texas, USA

Coyotes and Foxes

Widely distributed in the USA

Bats - 86% of cases between
1980-97 caused by bats. Bats need not bite to transmit the disease it

Outside the USA

Dog or Cat

UK, Australia, New Zealand,
Ireland, Taiwan, Japan, Hawaii, Mauritius, Barbados and Guam

No Rabies.

Northeastern USA


Note: (1) Wikipedia. I am referring to North America when I say cats rarely cause rabies.


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