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203342 tn?1328737207

Possible reaction to Rabies shot?

I took my youngest cat in today to get her Rabies shot (she's a year old). A couple of hours later she threw up quite a bit. I wasn't too concerned yet because my oldest cat does that every time I take her to the vet. I think it's just nerves. Well, I called the vet and they said it's not unusual for them to throw up or have a little diarrhea after getting the shot and what I really needed to look for was if her face was swollen or if she was having trouble breathing. They said to take her to the ER vet if I see those signs.
Well, those aren't the signs I see. She's had a few droplets of diarrhea and now had more of it on the kitchen floor. She also has been running around like she's a little freaked out. She's been shaking her paws and twitching her legs a little bit. I've tried to pick her up to calm her down and she doesn't want to be held. She keeps running off. She's just acting odd to me. Now I know as a young cat she's often acted a little crazy and ran around, etc. but I think this seems different. I'm not sure if I should just continue to monitor her and take her back to the vet in the morning or take her tonight? I'm just not sure what to think of this since this isn't the signs of a bad reaction that the vet told me to watch for.
Any advice?  
44 Responses
609884 tn?1227329403
I have heard of dogs and cats becoming aggressive for a few days after a rabies vaccination and I've heard of seizures occuring.

What you are describing, I would say, is rare but not unheard of.  I would definitely take her back to the vet as soon as possible to treat the symptoms of any side effects, if need be.  If you don't trust this vet to be thorough and knowledgable about this, then take her to another vet or, even better, take her to a large animal hospital.  Those places usually have a large staff and they've seen just about everything that can happen with animals.

Let us know what happens, ok?  Good luck.
203342 tn?1328737207
Well, she kept me up ALL night. She just couldn't relax and be still. She came up on my bed once and laid down by me for 2 seconds and then immediately ran off again. On and on all night I could hear her running, jumping, etc. She just wouldn't calm down. This morning my daughter said she was still kind of twitching. I noticed that last night, that she'd shake her head and have little twitches but she'd run off again.
My husband just pulled me aside a little bit ago and said that she had bloody diarrhea on the laundry room floor. He said she was just sitting looking at her litter box. I asked him if he was SURE it was bloody and he said "yes". So, I'm going to take her back to the vet this morning.

Can a Rabies shot honestly cause all of that??! She was fine until I took her to the vet yesterday. What the heck is going on?? I even tried to look up signs of a bad reaction to Rabies shots last night and nothing came up with what I'm seeing with her.

I'm going to take her in. I just wanted to let you all know. Please pray it's not serious. And please pray it's not too expensive. We've spent so much on vet bills this last year and we have so many other debts and I just lost my night job this week. I don't want this to be about money, of course, but we only have so much.

Most importantly, please pray that she'll be ok. This is my daughter's cat. I don't want anything bad to happen to her. She's only a year old. It makes me so mad. She was fine yesterday! They were even telling me how sweet all my animals are. I don't want this to change her somehow. It's almost scary how she's acting.
Please pray for us today! Or at least send good thoughts our way.
I will keep you all updated when I learn anything more.
587315 tn?1333552783
Hi, the symptoms you described don't sound like a reaction to rabies vaccines.  The reactions I've seen to this vaccine have been-loss of appetite, slight fever, and lethargy.  Gosh, those signs, alone, used to upset me because I have indoor cats and didn't see the point in getting the vaccine.  BUT, it's Virginia law.

April, what I've heard of is that a vaccine can bring OTHER illnesses to the surface.  Vaccines will activate the immune system by introducing a virus/bacteria to the body so that it is recognized in the future so that it doesn't cause sickness.  When a vaccine is given and the immune system is activated and there is ANOTHER virus/bacteria that an animal is also fighting at the same time this puts the immune system in "overdrive" trying to deal with too many organisms at once.  This will bring the other illness to the surface. I hope that this is easy to understand-the immune system is very complicated!!

This is what I think has happened to your baby.  Has your cat's other vaccines up to date?  What about distemper?  I think that distemper causes bloody diarrhea.

I'll be praying for you and your baby!!  Best wishes!!

541150 tn?1306033843
From what you've described, it all seems anxiety symptoms. Am I not right?

If it is anxiety, then I'd say the shots caused it and she should be fine. When my cat had his rabies shots he threw up a little but that was it. Gosh she is already a year old. Time flies!

And zodiacqueen is right. Certain vaccines cause illnesses by introducing external agents into the body.

Keep a close watch on her.  Rabies shots side effects can last for up to a week. I noticed on your second post that your daughter had told you about kitty (I don't remember if her Japanese name starts with S or Z) was still twitching a bit? Is it less and less or is she still twitching with the same frequency she did when she got home from the vet?

April, it's your cat, and you know her better than anyone, but she got her shots yesterday. I would think it's too soon to take her back in just because it can take a week for the side effects to go away. I would be extremely worried if kitty had a fever and had a bloated face. But again, she is your cat and you know her, and you're the one who's watching her feel uncomfortable. Your judgment would be more assertive than mine.

I'm so sorry hun. For such energetic creature so full of life to be like it is very upsetting. Let us know how everything is going, and you can rest assure I'll keep you both in my prayers and thoughts. But you'll see how she bounces back in a jiffy!!!  :)
203342 tn?1328737207
I'm so aggravated! I'm going to vent here for just a bit then tell you the latest, lol. UGH.

Ok, I called my vet's office this morning and told them all that was happening. They said that this didn't sound like a reaction to the vaccine. I told them she was perfectly fine when she went in there yesterday! They were even commenting on how healthy she was, how good her teeth were and how sweet she was, etc.

Anyway, I ask if I can bring her in and they say no because their vet had a family emergency and has to leave early. I can't believe this! They are just going to leave the clinic without a vet all day?! I'm so fed up with them to begin with because this is the second semi-emergency I had where they turned me away. Last month I carried my maltese dog into the clinic because he had just had a seizure and I was a little freaked out. Well, they told me to take him to the ER vet because they were closing early because all the vets had a meeting to go to! I couldn't believe it! I had to carry him back home and wait till the ER vet clinic opened to take him in. The ER vet only opened in the evenings through the night to take care of animals past regular vet hours. I'm so fed up I'm ready to find another vet clinic.

Anyway, so they send me to another branch, which is farther away from me. I get there and fortunately they were able to get me right in. I'm noticing her pupils are huge, almost filling up her entire eye. I pointed that out to the nurse. She said she's probably really stressed. My cat is still jumpy and nervous. She won't let them take her temperature. I noticed that she tries to lie down and then sits right back up as if she's not comfortable. They said they'd like to keep her today and observe her, give her something like Benedryl, antibiotics (which is supposed to calm down her gastro upset) and a steriod shot. I agreed and left her there.

I'm so angry that this even happened. I told them at the front desk that I'm not giving her the Rabies vaccine again. It's ridiculous. I don't even see why it's necessary when she's an indoor cat. I could see if she was an indoor/outdoor cat but she stays strictly indoors. He said it's the state law. Well, I've got three years to think about it but I don't want to put her through that again.
I'm scared that something's wrong with her neurologically. Guys, I'm not kidding you. She was acting freaky last night. My son said he heard her flipping the toilet lid like she was trying to get into the toilet. She kept trying to jump up places and would fall back down, try again and fall back down. She was acting in a way I've NEVER seen her act like. I'm just so upset right now.
She was FINE until this vaccine yesterday.

I will let you all know more when I know more, hopefully by this evening. Keep us in your thoughts. Thanks,
165308 tn?1323186545
Hopefully they gave her some kind of sedative...hopefully it is just that she freaked herself out so terribly being at the vet and getting a shot.  I will say a prayer for your cat.  I know how much they are part of the family!  Hang in there.
203342 tn?1328737207
I wish they could give me a sedative too. ;P
541150 tn?1306033843
What I don't understand is, first they tell you that it didn't sound like a reaction to the vaccine yet they are giving her steroids and antibiotics, which you'd give a cat suffering from a vaccine side effect.   (??????)

Poor kitty. I think the reason she was trying to lay down but couldn't was pain in the area. Maybe it is swollen. Did you check? Well swollen is also normal, and discomfort where the shot was given as well, but she was acting freaked out, and that's not good.

I agree with you. For indoors the law should change. It's not like she ever goes outside or anything. My cat has been vaccinated against rabies only once and it was earlier this year. I don't think I'll put him through this again. It just doesn't make any sense, besides, he's had way too much stress with his IBD problems. He is fed up with vet visits that poor animal.

Keep up with the updates, April2.
Hopefully, your kitty will get better soon.
203342 tn?1328737207
Sorry for the confusion, PrettyKitty. It was the first vet who said they didn't think it was a reaction to the Rabies shot, the vet clinic that I normally go to. Then they referred me to another clinic because their vet had to leave early. That's where she is now. They wanted to keep her to observe her. Does that make sense now?
The antibiotics they said will calm down her intestines and help with the diarrhea.

I tell you, PrettyKitty, it's been one thing after another.
165308 tn?1323186545
Give us an update after they call....fingers and toes crossed
541150 tn?1306033843
Thanks for clarifying April. It does make sense now. I always had a feeling her symptoms were due to the side effects. So much for having an INDOOR cat vaccinated, a cat that will most likely never go out. I'm telling you, the state law should change. Putting our animals through this isn't worth it if they are to stay inside at all times. How much would we have to pay (it would be a fine) if we don't take our cats to the vet to get vaccinated against rabies? In Florida you get fined $300 for a dog. I don't know how much it'd be for a cat.

April, didn't you have pet insurance? Don't they cover this?

Gosh I hope your cat gets better soon. But those side effects can last for a week. She is young and strong, so she'll most likely bounce back in no time.

Abby is sending Sakura loud purrs. Wait, is it Zakura or Sakura? :)

Hang in there, April. She'll get better.
203342 tn?1328737207
Hey PrettyKitty. Sakura is acting MUCH better today! Thank God! She came up on my bed this morning and laid on my chest and I petted her for awhile. She's much calmer now. I'm wondering if a lot of this was that she was really stressed? Maybe that and a combination of the shot? The way she was shaking her legs and head makes me wonder if the shot made her itchy or something or some kind of feeling that was freaking her out, thus making her dash around the house like that. I don't know.
For $100 we still don't know for sure if it was a reaction or not but they treated it as if it was! And no, I didn't have the insurance on this one. I had it on my two older animals but I just canceled it a couple of months ago because I was thinking of looking for a new vet and this insurance is only through this chain of vet clinics.
They sent home some medication (and you KNOW how much fun giving medication is to cats!!!) so we will finish that up and hopefully she'll be fine now.
Sakura thanks Abby and might want her to come over and play someday! Especially since our older cat will NOT play with her, lol.
Thanks everyone! Thanks for the prayers and good thoughts. God is good. I should know by now to never doubt Him. He's always pulled us through things before, big and small. God bless you guys!
Avatar universal
I'm sorry your little baby has had such a bad reaction to the rabies vaccine. I also live in Florida and you have to get your cat vaccinated for rabies or face a big fine as PrettyKitty said.

I think Molly's breathing problems are from the rabies vaccine. When she got it two years ago (she gets the once a year shot) she started breathing funny on the way home from that vet visit and has done so ever since. She's 17 years old and is ill right now. I'm so afraid to give her the shot in January when she's due for her regular geriatric physical. I'm afraid it's going to kill her. I'm considering trying to talk to someone in the county to see if I can get permission not to give it to her. She's never set foot outside in her 17 years and she's sick. I'm afraid it will kill her. When I mention reaction to the rabies vaccine to my vet she poo poo's me and says that couldn't happen.

I will pray for your sweet little kitty and hope that she will get well soon. I'm sorry this has happened to her and to you.
203342 tn?1328737207
Isn't that crazy? My mom lives in Arizona and said it's not the law there and she doesn't get her cats the Rabies shot because they're older and indoor cats too. I'd look into that, if I were you and see if you can get permission to not get the shot. Or maybe look for a new vet. How would they know if you didn't get the shot? You could tell your vet you've moved to a different vet or something and then how would they be able to keep track? Except when you take her in for something else, I suppose.
The fact that your vet poo-poos the idea of a reaction is a bit concerning. She's not taking you seriously. If you have to get the shot they should give her the other medication first to prevent a reaction. That's what they told me yesterday. They said next time I bring her in to let them know she had a reaction and they will give her the preventative medication to help counter that. If your vet refuses to do that, get another vet. I'm serious.
I think it's ridiculous that a 17 year old cat would even have to get one, ugh.

Please make sure your vet will give the preventative medication first before the next Rabies shot. If she refuses, get another vet. There are plenty out there who will take you serious.

By the way, if your cat is sick, do NOT let her get ANY kind of vaccinations until she's well. They shouldn't do it anyway. Just like a child, when they say to not give them vaccinations while they're sick, the same goes for our pets.

I hope Molly gets better soon! I'll say a prayer for her.

Ps. Don't they have the 3 year Rabies shot? At least then you could've waited 3 years before the next one was due.
165308 tn?1323186545
I am so happy to read that things are better with your baby!  What a scare!  Now try to relax a little and take deep breaths!!!
Avatar universal
I'm so happy to hear that Sakura is better! What a relief huh? It's so terrible that indoor cats of any age have to have the rabies shot. The only bad thing with our county is...the vets have to report a list of cats that they give the shot to and the owners of those cats so taking Molly to another vet wouldn't do any good. I think my only option is trying to get permission from the county not to give her the shot. I hope and pray I can get this done. I definately wish there was a sneaky way to get things done. Too bad we even have to think about sneaking around for the welfare and health for our cats!

What is the name of the medication that can be given ahead of time to prevent a reaction to the vaccine? I'll ask about it.
203342 tn?1328737207
I think it's just Benadryl. That's what they gave my cat, plus a steriod shot and then some antibiotics because she was having diarrhea. They should know what to give. They told me that next time to just bring her and leave her and they'd give her the meds an hour or so before the Rabies shot. It will cost more doing it this way. Thank goodness it'll be another three years before I have to do this again.
Like I said, don't give her any vaccines, though, if she's sick. Wait till she's better. I wish you the best with Molly. Let us know how it all goes with you.
God bless,
228686 tn?1211554707
I'm glad it's working out in the end run. It sounds like she had an allergic reaction to the shot (moderate, towards severe).

The second vet is right on the money; if you have to do the shot again, administering benadryl should help alleviate any problems. The steroidal is to help prevent sarcoma (if I'm recalling right).

Yours is a case of I'd say avoid having kitty get the shot...but then there's that sticky problem of you and kitty ending up in jail. :-/

Some of the symptoms you mentioned were an indirect result of the reaction, btw. Stress from the discomfort of the allergic reaction as well as stress from multiple outings to the vet will cause a cat to behave strangely.

Not that I'd call it strange behavior. It's perfectly natural for any animal to get freaked out from being ill, put in a box, and carted off to an office full of yowling animals (and people!) a few times in a week!

It sounds like everything settled down. Just keep an eye on the injection site and be aware of any formations of lumps or other skin issues.
Avatar universal
My cat Rocky was the most loveable cat I have every had, I raised him and his sister Pumpkin from 5 days old so they are very special to me. They have always gone for their rabies vaccines with no reaction until this past June. I brought Rocky in for his rabies shot, he seemed a little more active afterwards than usual but he seemed ok the next morning I found him dead on the floor. He did not have any pre-existing health issues and was 9 yrs old and all my cats are indoor. I am still mourning for him.  In 1982 I had a beautiful 1yr old grey and white kitten I took for her rabies shot he reaction was immediate and she died 15 minutes after her shot, the vet said he had tried to save her but her heart literally exploded.  I will never take any of my cats for rabies vaccines again. I don't think I will every get over Rockys death. My heart goes out to all who have had this devastating experience.
874521 tn?1424116797
Oh Janica I am so sorry for your loss, how traumatic a way to loose a loved pet!!
I've also stopped giving rabies to my indoor cats a number of years ago b/c of the horrid side effects and really not necessary for cats that aren't running free.
In fact contrary to what most Vets suggest Dr. Martin Goldstein in his book "The Nature of Animal Healing" recommends only 1 vaccine for indoor cats. He suggests giving kittens at 10-12 weeks of age a single (NOT COMBINATION)  of the feline panleukopenia (FPV) vaccine because its the ONLY vaccine proven somewhat effective and with fewer negative effects than the other vaccines.
For outdoor cats, he recommends only 1 rabies shot with NO boosters, because he claims a single shot has been shown to protect a cat for LIFE.(unless required by law in the State you live in)

Dr. Pitcairn, Goldstein and Hamilton all Holistic Vets(that concur with each other) have each written books and discuss the negative long term side effects of vaccines and how unecessary and risky they are.

Thanks for bringing up this topic, welcome to our forum.
Avatar universal
Just to offer a bit different perspective.....

I work at an animal shelter......People come in every day looking for their indoor cat who never goes out but one particular day he/she did.  These cats are more vulnerable to rabies because they have no experience in hunting or defending themselves.  We had one such cat a couple of weeks ago who was rabid and found in an elementary school yard.  Rabies is a deadly and incurable disease disease that in the past has caused epedemics that have killed hundreds of thousands of animals including people.  It is a very slow and painful death in people.  The laws requiring vaccination of household pets have all but eradicated the spread of this disease in developed countries.  Unfortunately, it is still killing thousands in undeveloped countries where there are no such laws.

Some cats are more vulnerable to vaccine side effects than others.  Now knowing that is the case with yours, you can take steps to minimize those effects in the future.  Subcutaneous fluids a day or so prior to the injection will help as well as benedril.  I would also recommend the one year vaccine rather than the 3 year.  
874521 tn?1424116797
Nancy thank you for giving us another perspective, always good to hear both and than judge for oneself.
Another way to minimize side effects is to not give the rabis on the SAME DAY as other injections....this is an over load on their system.
And not to give the 'comb' vac...also known as 'multivalents' b/c they involve too many angitens going into the cat at one time.....do each on its own.
242912 tn?1402543492
Janica, I am so very sorry for your sudden and shocking loss of Rocky.  And your little gray kitten, as well.  How awful you've had this experience twice in your lifetime.  I never even heard of this happening before your post.  

I would like to expand on this discussion in saying that Opus is absolutely right about jogging the rabies shot with any other vaccine.  Normally, the Rabies and FVRCP vaccination are given together (at my vet, anyway).  This year, we had them given separately and Jade's reaction was considerably less, in fact, I believe she reacted to the FVRCP more violently than the Rabies.

Avatar universal
Yesterday was a very sad day because my family lost our 15 year old cat two days after he was taken to the vet and given a rabies vaccine. Be VERY careful, do your research, ask the vet what the vaccine does, if it is truly needed, and if there are dangers involved. A poster above recommended taking preventative measures before agreeing to the vaccine. I wish that we had the foresight to do this. Do not just agree to the vaccine because "doctor knows best". As my family found out, the vaccine proved to be lethal. Please let your friends and family know about this danger.
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