This is a discussion article on America’s rabid cats. Some facts are clear from the data presented online while other facts are not. However, I noticed, while surfing the Internet this morning, that in India dogs cause the highest number of human rabies deaths at 97% followed by cats at 2% (newindianexpress.com). There is a huge disparity between these figures. As is clear, dogs are by far the biggest danger to humans in respect of getting rabies in India.
If we then jump to America and read the CDC.gov website we notice that each year, in America, “around 60 to 70 dogs and more than 250 cats are reported rabid”.
The important word is “reported”. As I understand this, people are reporting what they believe to be rabid cats. They don’t know that the cats are rabid. They just think they are. Sometimes, for example, a person might approach a domestic cat and that cat is fearful for whatever reason. The cat attacks the person in an unprovoked manner which is very rare but it can happen. The person decides that the cat is rabid because their behaviour is unusually aggressive. The person doesn’t understand why and therefore deems the cat to be affected by the rabies virus and calls the authorities.
Sometimes these cats are trapped, killed and their brains inspected for the virus. People like myself, rarely receive reports online about rabid cats beyond the stories in the news media. The public rarely receives further information by which I mean whether the test on the cat proved positive for rabies or not.
The point that I’m making is that the reported number of cats infected with rabies might not and probably does not match up to the confirmed results. And the information I refer to coming out of India supports this argument.
In addition, the information provided by CDC about actual rabies cases in humans in the United States and Puerto Rico from January 2008 to September 2017 confirms this. There is not one bite or contact with a cat amongst the animals that transmitted rabies to these unfortunate people. They list dogs and bats, a raccoon, and a fox but there’s no cat in their list.
My argument is that people are reporting what they believe to be rabid cats when they are not rabid because of a dislike of feral cats. It’s a bias within the reporting system which I believe needs to be highlighted.
Quite often, in online news media, reporters are too eager to create sensationalist headlines about “rabid cat attacks individual” and that sort of stuff. You don’t see stories about rabid bats attacking people. It is nearly always domestic or feral cats.
Note: of the 23 cats of rabies in the USA in the past decade, 8 were contracted abroad and the person returned to the USA already infected.
P.S. In a timely manner there is a report of a rabid cat from Fresno, California. The cat tested positive. It is nice to see the test result reported. Health officials say that it is the first confirmed feline rabies case since 1943.