Rabies From Cats, USA: Keep It In Perspective

I would like to keep the threat of getting rabies from cats in perspective. The problem with rabies is that people are frightened of it. They should be because it can be a fatal disease. Rabies does have a very bad image in the world. It kills tens of thousands of people in the world but most of them live in Asia and Africa.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a United States governmental agency, tell us that in 2009 the number of rabies cases amongst cats in the United States was 300.

I have to make a presumption that they’re referring to all cats, namely, stray, feral, semi-feral and domestic cats.

There are approximately 160,000,000 cats (estimated) of this sort in America. If every one of the 300 rabid cats bit a person, thereby threatening the transmission of rabies to that person, it would indicate that people have a 1 in 533,333 chance of getting rabies from cats in the USA.

However, I’m sure that not everyone of the 300 cats mentioned did bite people and therefore you could probably say the chances of catching rabies from a cat are somewhere nearer 1 in many million. About the same chance as winning a lottery!

Recorded human deaths from rabies in the United States, at present, is about one or two per year. I don’t know how many of those deaths were caused by a bite from a rabid cat but bearing in mind that raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats are by far the greater carrier of the rabies virus, it is highly unlikely that anyone has died by getting rabies from a cat bite.

Although 40,000 people receive a rabies prevention treatment annually due to a potential exposure to rabies most of these exposures are due to precautions or possible bites by the animals referred to above (other than cats). Bats are the biggest carriers.

There is an obligation in the USA to vaccinate a cat against rabies.

I won’t go on because I’ve made my point. My point is that nobody has died having caught rabies from a cat in the USA last year or the year before that, on my reckoning.

Despite this, the online newspapers continued to report incidences of rabid cats as if they some sort of monster. Let’s keep things in perspective, please.

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Rabies From Cats, USA: Keep It In Perspective — 5 Comments

  1. Thanks for the brilliant piece! Will share far and beyound as I’m irritated of media manipilating people and not thinking of consequences of what they emphasise.

    Marc, absolutely true – media hype. That’s how the world works. If somebody has an interest in increasing killing cats, creating scary stories is one way of getting the public to buy the idea.


    • Thanks Natalie. I totally agree with what you say. Sometimes I think that a sizeable percentage of the journalists or reporters at online newspapers don’t like cats because they nearly always present them in a bad light. Or they are disrespectful and this damages the image of the cat in the mind of the public. This can only lead to abuse against cats. That’s why I dislike misrepresentations and exaggerations concerning the cat.


  2. In my own experience here, I have not noticed any emphasis on cats being a source of Rabies. More so would be the bats and the squirrels which I guess could end up being prey for the cats and so maybe thats where it is coming from. Rabies is not that big of an issue here anymore like it once was. Yes , we recommend the standard Rabies vaccinations for outdoor pets but none of my indoor cats receive this vaccination, it’s not required.
    I think the media likes to blow things out of proportion.


    • I am pleased with what you say. Good news. I am always concerned about media portraying the outdoor cat in a poor light. Sometimes it is done carelessly without figuring out the possible consequences. There are people who want any excuse to kill cats.


  3. The media often seem like a bunch of emotional whores, and rightly so because that’s exactly what they often are. They offer up human emotions for money with little regard for truth in cases like these. So somebody tell me why that doesn’t make them a bunch of disgusting sellouts.

    Regardless, I believe raccoons and bats are the bigger problem in this case – and perhaps dogs too.

    Why it gets put on cats I really don’t know. Perhaps it really is just purely the media hype. Whoever writes about cats this way is bending and exaggerating reality – they should be fired and be forced to clean out litter boxes.
    But sadly they probably don’t even think they did anything wrong.

    It’s very Daily Mail (daily male as I call it) to come up with trash like that – lies basically.



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