Rabies Shot Side Effects in Cats

Aug 19, 2017

The rabies vaccine is not infrequently connected with side effects when given to cats. The recommendation is to give cats their rabies shot between 8-12 weeks with a yearly booster. Over a lifetime, this can add up to quite a few vaccines. Cats can have side effects from a rabies vaccine even if they did not have a bad reaction to a rabies vaccine in the past.

Side effects from the rabies vaccine include vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, sleepiness, lethargy, swelling, partial paralysis, shock, cancer and death.

Earth Clinic readers have been reporting a number a side effects from rabies vaccines and rabies booster shots for over a decade.

Alice from Arizona says, "My 7 month old kitten died last week after receiving his rabies booster. Immediately after the injection he started vomiting. The vet administered the anti injection but the kitten continued declining. They tried CPR 3 times but he did not recover and died."

Kleand, from London, UK had a cat with a severe rabies vaccine reaction: "Our cat was given a Rabies vaccination and went into anaphalactic shock. She threw up about 25 times and had copious diarrhea, but because the vet called the vaccine company and they said that they'd never heard of an adverse reaction to the vaccine. Our vet assumed she was simply traumatized by her vet appointment. It wasn't until her face swelled up that we decided the vaccine company had misrepresented the truth, and it took two very expensive appointments (including an emergency appointment at two in the morning) to stabilize her."

Minimizing Risks of Side Effects

Know the laws where you live. Do not give your pets vaccination at ages younger than recommended ages. Do not give your pet a vaccination if he is sick or recovering from sickness. For the rabies vaccine, see if you can get a rabies titer and check the status of immunity in your cat to make sure the vaccine is needed.

Before you take your pet to get a vaccine, have remedies on hand at home (and maybe in the car for the ride home!) to deal with a reaction should your cat have a reaction. Early treatment of side effects is ideal.

If you cat or kitten has experienced side effects from a rabies vaccine, please let us know.

Read on below to see what side effects and experiences other Earth Clinic readers have experienced. To learn remedies to treat side effects from vaccinations in cats, please visit this Earth Clinic page.

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects  

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Posted by Darleen (Buffalo, Ny) on 08/18/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My cat is 17 years old. He was in perfect health until he got a rabies vaccine. 45 days later he started having seizures. I would like to know if they is anything that could help repair damage from this vaccine and if anything can cure the seizures.

Posted by Paula (Ga) on 08/02/2017
0 out of 5 stars

Took 6 yr old very healthy, Happy kitty to vet for slight twitch in ear. She got a clean bill of health however. They insisted she have Rabies shot which I did not want. When we got home she threw up and has been very lethargic for a week. I have of course taken her back to Vet 2 more times for steroid and annahestimine, no change. Full lab results taken, Vet says all is normal except white blood cells are 3.1 low. They are denying that the shot caused this and saying she must have had something already. How can we treat it if they don't acknowledge it. They even suggested that I asked for Shot, they don't are not the law. All false which makes getting proper care impossible if Vet is not trustworthy. 7 days later small change in her but she is not the same fun loving, very affectionate kitty. I am beyond heartbroken and worried. Can someone please advise me?

Replied by Maria

My 15 year old cat had a rabies last month - after never having a reaction to them - her eyes were rolling into her skull, she couldn't stand and her tongue just hung out like she was panting. Rushed her right back to the vet where they took their sweet time, finally administering benadryl and fluids and we were sent home. She seemed to be doing a little better, but she's still not anywhere near she was. She has other issues - so she is syringe fed most of the time - so I have been putting probiotics (from milk kefir, water kefir and fermented veggies) into her food along with activated charcoal to see if it can help pull out more of the toxins. (This is all without the approval of my vet - who believes this is unnecessary.) I was up all night worried about my cat last night - hoping to get her back to the vet Friday because I don't think I can stand it. Please be vigilant...if something doesn't seem right - keep bugging them.

Replied by Suseeq
Sydney Australia

Please put this kitty on a course of vitamin C.

Posted by Michaela (Liveprool, Ny) on 07/30/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My 7-year-old cat had an infection that was easily resolved with antibiotics. He apparently had a scratch and it became infected. He was predominantly an inside cat, however, followed me everywhere (inside and outside). I took him to our vet on Thursday (7/27/2017), they shaved him and cleaned out the area. He was given injections of antibiotics, pain meds, and rabies meds. He wasn't gone from the house more than an hour. When my husband returned home, I quickly opened his cat carrier ...he ambled out of it and slowly, but awkwardly walked into the living room towards the couch. By the time he reached the couch, he couldn't jump up. I picked him up and realized that his hind legs were not moving. I was devastated! I called our vet, but didn't receive a response back. By the morning, it was apparent that his hind legs were paralyzed. I stayed up with him all night to ensure that he was comfortable. We rushed him back to the vet ... only to be met with a lack of compassion and a blame game. Needless to say, we rushed him to Cornell University Vet Center. An MRI would have cost over $3,000 ... sadly, I didn't have the money. We were forced to put our Max to sleep. I am SO devastated at my loss. He was like a child to me.

Has anyone had any experience (I'm hoping not) with their cat becoming paralyzed after receiving a Rabie injection. Thank you for your support.

Replied by Theresa
Mpls., Mn

Hello Michaela,

I am sorry for the loss of your dear furkid Max. I also lost my heart-cat Goliath due to rear end paralysis - fine the night before, only to find him at the back door in the morning unable to use his rear legs. Vaccination was not involved. Rushed to vet and upon examination found rear legs cold to the touch. I thought he was hit by a car, but was told he had 'saddle thrombus' - a blood clot that likely originated in his heart was blocking the artery to the back legs. Two options - 1st was all kinds of expensive and very unlikely to work, and 2nd PTS. I had no choice and had to say goodbye to the best and finest cat I have ever known right then and there. Saddle thrombus is associated with kitty heart disease/congestive heart failure. Goliath was healthy as a horse - so I thought, was a true hunter and ate many mice and vermin, a free range diet in many ways and one I thought superior. I was stunned to learn cats could have heart disease and that saddle thrombus was common.

While it is certainly possible the rabies vaccine played a role in Max's rear end paralysis, my first thought was the treatment at the vet - the shaving and cleaning of the wound, being handled by strange people - along with being driven to and fro the vet clinic, might have been traumatic enough to dislodge a blood clot in the heart and set things in motion. In other words, his condition was a ticking time bomb and the vet visit itself, and not necessarily the rabies vaccine, allowed the time bomb to go off. Not sure if this is actually what happened with Max, just my gut feeling on the matter. Again so sorry for your loss of Max.

Posted by Wendy (West Burlington, Iowa ) on 07/15/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My 16 week old kitten had gotten her rabies shot and was lathargic, confused loss of appetite and threw up. She received her shots on Monday and today is Saturday and her appetite has increased a little but she has no energy. We just got her at the humane society she was a little terror running everywhere playing with my other cat and now all she wants to do is sleep, eat a little, and go to the bathroom then back to sleeping. In order to adopt her they made an appointment for us to get her checked out and get her shots. I have been in contact with the veterinary and they gave her an antibiotic. If I had to do it all over again I would not have taken her back for her rabie shot. We miss her energy and her attitude now she only wants to sleep.

Posted by Lawrence J. (Rotonda West Florida) on 06/03/2017
0 out of 5 stars

In mid-May of 2017, I had to agree to vaccinate my 12 year old cat William prior to grooming for Rabies and FVRCP. Following that time, William has developed highly elevated lethargy, sleepiness, appetite depression, loss of motor skills ( limping on all four legs) that is definitely appearing to be progressive. He now cannot jump up on the table. I've read in another article that Rabies facilitated nervous system side effects can appear up to 45-days after administering the Rabies vaccine. (By the way, William had lethargic effects and swelling in 2016 with the vaccine for weeks.) I need your recommendations before I lose my cat.

Best regards,


Replied by Theresa
Mpls., Mn

Hey Lawrence,

You might try cleansing with activated charcoal or bentonite clay, however you may get the best results for vaccine damage repair with a holistic vet :


Posted by Alyanna Ocampo (Las Piñas City, Philippines) on 04/28/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My 1 year old cat just got his very first anti rabies shot 3 days ago. Since then she has been meowing loud and lying down all day more than usual. Im not sure if its the side effects or she's sick.

Posted by Bonnie (Erie Pa) on 04/24/2017
0 out of 5 stars

Adopted our 5 year old Maine Coon from a shelter. He was very healthy for the year we have had him. Took him in for his yearly where he was given Rabie/Distemper Combo and then Distemper Booster 3 weeks after. This was two months ago and all he does is sleep, has a limp after laying a long time, doesn't want to play anymore, losing patches of hair. We took him back. They did blood work twice. No Virus present, No Leukemia but Kidney numbers are up so Vet prescribed special food for Kidney problems. You can't tell me the vaccines didn't do this to our cat. We are more than upset and feel like we took him to be poisoned. I am going to get the Milk Thistle and give it a try as mentioned in one of the posts. Someone needs to look into the poisoning of our pets with these vaccines!! Then after that they can look at why so many of our children have AUSTISM....HMMMM could it be all the vaccines they get??

Replied by Maggie

I have used homeopathic THUYA on several pets with good results. Both were used a long time after the vaccines. One was lethargic and not eating for weeks, I thought I would lose him. After many vet calls and visits I tried Thuya. Twenty minutes later he was up playing and ate his food. For pets I dissolve the pellets in water and use a dosing syringe. I have a book "Homeopathic Care for Dogs and Cats" It recommends some other treatments depending on symptoms.

Posted by Butternut (Nj) on 04/20/2017
0 out of 5 stars

Took my 7 year old indoor cat for her routine check up/vaccines. After receiving her 3 year rabies vaccine and distemper she starting vomiting for over an hour. Then she had a bowel movement on the sofa and became very sleepy. Poor thing. The next morning she came up to me and just peed right in front of me. Took her back to the vet that very next day( within 15 hours of her vaccine) and they gave her a cortisone shot. I had to keep her n the laundry room when I wasn't home and at night. She would hide behind the washer. It has been 3 days now and all she does is sleep. She is back in the main part of the house. She has been eating thankfully, but is not herself at all. I thought I was being a responsible pet owner by getting her vaccinated. I questioned if she needed them being an indoor cat and of course they said yes. I will never vaccinate an indoor pet ever again.

Posted by Angelina (New York ) on 03/14/2017
0 out of 5 stars

I had to give the rabies vaccine to my 7-month old Ragdoll kitten in order to travel with him. He is normally a very calm kitty who plays enough to stay active and hardly ever causes mischief. An hour after the vaccine he started acting completely crazy. He would go from sitting calmly to dashing up and down the house. It was like he was seeing things. He would attack and pounce on the empty air and then try to find whatever it was that he thought he had seen. He never used to be aggressive with me and now he is more prone to scratching me. Lastly he never used to meow unless he needed food and now he meows all the time for no reason. This has been going on for a week and he threw up which has never done before. Vomiting is a common effect of the rabies vaccine but I haven't seen anyone else mention or notice their cat's active ness or aggressive behaviour to have increased.

Please research carefully before doing this vaccine, there are clearly too many cases of unusual and even fatal side effects.

Posted by Candice (Virginia) on 02/28/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My 8 yr old Cat, I adopted, from the Animal Shelter, was seen by a Vet 2 days before I adopted her, I brought her home and she seemed fine, except the pupils of her eyes were dialated, and it seemed strange to me, then I connected the dots and realized this was all from her rabies shot, she received 2 days before I took her home, she was fine, and then in about 2 days she became sleepy, sneezing and coughing alot, walks very slow, and all she wants to do is sleep all day, she is eating and drinking a little, but she has a hard time breathing. kinda worried about that, it's been 12 days since her rabies shot.

Posted by Mom2twinz2 (Hot Springs, Ar) on 01/04/2017
0 out of 5 stars

Rabies Vaccine killed my cat

Went in for unusual bleeding/bruising in belly dec 5. Blood count ok. Told to come back dec 10 for re-check and to update rabies. Day after Christmas, dec 26, she's falling over, peeing in the floor, can't focus. Took her to vet. They did blood count, her hematocrit had dropped from normal 40's to 12.9!!! WTF! A week in ICU, a blood transfusion, up to 19 hct then back to 11.1 hct. Time to bring my baby home. She died in my arms tonight after fighting for her life for two nights at home. And she struggled for a couple of hours, fighting deaths door. She was my daughter's baby for 11 years, and my best friend and constant companion for the last 2 plus years.

Replied by Janis

I am so very sorry! How horrible for you and your poor baby! :(

Replied by Kt

I am so sorry to hear this too. It is sad and tugs at my heart. Maybe the dose was wrong for the age and weight?

Another thing that is possible...they may have eaten something that turned toxic because of the vaccines.

In the 70's I had two cats that I had dipped for fleas. They both became toxic because they had eaten some of a fern I had in my apartment prior to being dipped. I was fortunate that I was able to get them back to the vet for treatment and then had to hand-feed them back to health.

Today with changing ingredients in our pet food supply, binders & fillers in medicine/vaccines, any combination could be harmful and I feel should be questioned.


Posted by Nina (Ct) on 11/30/2016
0 out of 5 stars

My longhaired black cat experienced paralysis days after receiving a rabies vaccine. First the one back leg then both - then the front paws which became stiff and it progressed to his ability to swallow within days. I lost him on December 30 last year. He was such a beautiful boy - I will never allow a vet to vaccinate my animals again!

Replied by Brian Wagner
Southington, Ct
0 out of 5 stars

My 8 year old domestic short hair had a similar problem. Three days after the vaccine he lost the use of his back legs, had trouble breathing, vomited and tried to hide himself to die. This new vaccine killed him.

Posted by Pam (Brooklyn, Ny) on 11/24/2016
0 out of 5 stars

After my kitten received rabies vaccine he became paralyzed in his back legs. A week later he still can't move lower body.

Replied by Dr. Christina

A homeopathic veterinarian is the surest way to resolve this - www.theAVH.org.

At home - Reiki, acupressure, TTouch, ccmrt (muscle release therapy), HTA (healing touch for animals), maybe vaccine detox (spirit essences).

Replied by 4paws
Ontario, Canada

I would suggest 1 drop of liquid milk thistle (available from health food store) mixed in a little food once a day. As the milk thistle is preserved in alcohol, put 1 teaspoonful of boiled water in a bowl, add one drop of the milk thistle and allow the alcohol to dissipate for a few seconds and then mix in a little food. The milk thistle gently cleans out the liver which is likely toxic from the vaccination. A friend's dog was paralyzed from poison. The vet specialist did everything they knew but nothing worked. After 1 dose of milk thistle (this dog was older so had 10 drops), the dog was up walking and happy! Milk thistle is my go to remedy for everyone! :)

I hope your kitty recovers quickly!

Posted by Xenot (Washington State) on 10/02/2016
0 out of 5 stars

Both of my cats received their 2nd annual rabies vaccine. The younger cat, a 16-month old Maine Coon kitten is doing just fine. However, the 14-year-old tabby is not. He already has health issues, such as arthritis, asthma, and an enlarged heart and takes a corticosteroid and benazepril for 2 of those issues. He is now laying on my bed and is very lethargic. He is not normally very active because of his age, the meds he takes, his health issues and the fact that the prednisolone has rendered him very over-weight, but I can tell he is definitely not himself. Usually, when he is laying down and I touch him, he purrs loudly immediately. He is not purring, his eyes look distant and he is a bit warm to the touch. He is very lethargic. It has been about 12 hours after the shot. I live in a state that requires a rabies vaccine in order to license my pet. I think I will have to get some kind of document stating that my cat is reactive and should be exempt. I am not going to put him through this again. Last year, he was fine after his shot. Apparently, there is no way to tell how your cat will react from year to year. When I rescued him from the Humane Society, it was before the economic downturn and I was in a much better financial position. I do not have the funds to take him to the vet if his health deteriorates from the effects of the shot. I'm very, very upset. I feel like I paid money to have him poisoned.

Replied by Randa

So sorry for what you and your cat are going through. I am very much against the rabies shot because I lost my beloved three year old cat because of Sarcoma due to the vaccine. However, it is obligatory by law over here. I have 28 cats and I have stopped using the rabies shot. I also give no vaccines to the elderly cats. Anyway, I vaccinate the younger ones once every other year. They are all doing fine . In your case I would ask the vet to give me a paper stating that my cat is elderly and allergic to this vaccine, so that you can get your pet licence and spare the cat. We don't have a pet license over here. I have no idea how that works or why it is necessary. I hope your cat gets better. Best wishes to you both.

Posted by Peter (Nashville Tn) on 09/02/2016
0 out of 5 stars

Our cat had his one year rabies shot this afternoon.. tonight about 6 hours later..he won't use the litter box, blows out his nose at it. We tried to put him in it and he acted like it was water. Then he pooped and went pee on the bath mat.

Replied by Suseeq
Sydney, Australia

Please please before any vaccination, put your animals on vit c for least a week.