Rabies Shot Side Effects in Cats

Nov 28, 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 Merlin (Chicago) on 11/28/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My 6 year old neutered male DSH got a rabies shot on Monday and the next day his voice went from normal to absent or weak croaking when he tried to vocalize. This was sudden onset right after the rabies vac. A week later now, and his voice is slowly returning.

Posted by Katie (Ca) on 11/21/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My 1 year old cat just got his rabbie shot up to date and since we brought him home hes been puking and hes really confussed and walking weiredly hes really warm and hes lower back keeps twicking. I don't whats going on, this has never happened.

Posted by Badseed33 (Minneapolis, Minnesota) on 11/07/2017
0 out of 5 stars

My 4 month old kitten had gotten a rabies vaccination yesterday. And now she is very aggressive and wont let me trim her nails or anything. She runs away from me hissing and scratching. Was that because of the rabies vaccine. Please help me. One more thing she scratching up my house really bad.

Replied by Theresa
Mpls., Mn

Hey Badseed33,

You might try homeopathic Silicea and/or thuja for the vaccine reaction. You might also consider dosing activated charcoal - might have to mix it into a can of tuna to get her to take it. I will say that having a single 4 month old kitten is a real challenge. I urge you to consider a second kitten of the same age so that your first kitten can socialize. At that young age kitties realize that if they bite their playmate the playmate bites back, and that it does not feel good. In this way they learn to inhibit their bite when playing with super tender skinned humans. Please report back!

Replied by Jennifer
Minneapolis, Mn

Hello Badseed33

I am also in the Minneapolis area and my dog is having problems after a recent 3 year rabies vaccine. I've been trying to figure out what to do myself! I will do a separate post with more details about my personal story. Hope your kitty is feeling better!

Posted by Kay (Mt) on 10/25/2017
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Reporting bad reaction to rabies shot in my 6 month old kitten. Took her 3 weeks to eat well and start playing again.

Posted by Ventot (Philippines) on 10/24/2017
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Worried about my cat... How long it will last for a cats swollen after having an an anti rabies shot for 2 weeks ago.

Replied by Theresa
Mpls., Mn

Hey Ventot,

A swollen paw does not sound normal at all - please see your vet.

Posted by Alice (Pa) on 08/29/2017
0 out of 5 stars

I hope this is how you're supposed to post to a conversation this is for the rabies vaccine side effects. I'm trying to tell my story and the side effect my cat is suffering right now. On August 20th of this year I took my 20 year old cat to the vet for his checkup and blood work he has hyperthyroidism. The vet insisted on giving him a rabies shot. It is now August 29th and my baby can barely walk up until this morning he was eating fine right now he doesn't want to eat for me. I read something on this site about milk thistle, but I don't understand what kind to get or how much to give. I'm so upset because he was fine and now all the vet says to me as well you know he is old. I had to contact a holistic vet in Colorado because there aren't any near me and he recommended dmg and lyssin. Everything I read about lysine says that you have to administer it within hours it's now 9 days later, so I'm not sure it will help him. If there's anyone out there that can help me save my baby he was fine now he's not I'm scared and disgusted.

Replied by Alice
0 out of 5 stars

I want to report a death from the rabies vaccine I wrote her post on the 29th reporting side effects, but I lost him yesterday the 2nd of September. The emergency vet insists that it wasn't the vaccine that he must likely had cancer, but we had no signs and no warnings. So my theory is the vaccine either triggered a dormant or slow-moving cancer and made it rapidly spread.

EC: We are so sorry for your loss, Alice.

Posted by Megan C. (Clarksville, Tn) on 08/27/2017
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My kitten, Lucie, is about 10 to 14 weeks old. She was found in an abandoned house and no one was 100 percent sure of her age. We were told by the people that found her that she was 6 weeks but when we took her to the vet at the first available appointment over a week later, the vet suggested that she was actually just at 6 weeks. If that was the case, than she was on solid food way too early by the people who found her and was possibly malnourished. I say all that because I don't know if she had a bad reaction to the rabies vaccine because of her unknown age and being to young or because she was weened to early to have a fully developed immune system.

At "6 weeks" she recieved her first round of vaccine and deworming, and addition vaccines every 3 weeks for a total 3 visits. The last visit she recieved her Rabies vaccine. She was very small when we got her and was only 4.7 pounds at the final visit when she received the rabies vaccination. Within less than four days we had to bring her back because everyday following the vaccination, she was eating less and less. We tried two different dry and wet foods, treats, hours of sitting and coercing and the amount she ate continued to declined and led to vomiting. She had lost a full pound when we brought her back and the vet ran test and stated that she didn't find anything but it's probably a reaction to the vaccination. They gave us stimulant pills to give her every 48 hours and Advaita supplement powder to sprinkle on her food. Which seemed counter productive since she wasn't eating anything! The next day she was basically bones and the vet didnt offer any tips when called back so I decided to get a syringe, mix the powder and pill with a little milk and unfortunately, force her to drink it using the syringe. She thought I was the most evil person for scruffing and forcing her to take the medicine and powder but I was scared if I didn't, she would be dead by the end of the week. I was could feel her ribs, shoulder blades and thigh bones but the vet seemed unphased even though she was already less than 5 pounds before the vaccine and was strinking rapidly.

After staying home and watching her, and sitting up at night to get her to eat at least 5 pieces of dry food every 4 hours along with the meds, she is finally showing signs of life again. She's prompting herself to eat and eating a little more every time. Still has not started to play again and still is sleeping a lot a week later but I hope she fully recovers. Lucie is an inside cat and I don't know if she will react this way when its time again or if I even should get it since she is strictly an inside cat. She almost lost all her weight!

What should I do in a year from now?

Posted by Shelly (Clemmons, Nc) on 08/25/2017
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We adopted sibling cats from AARF about 3 weeks ago. One of them had the rabies shot and the other did not. I was told that the female cat didn't have her shot but they somehow had the paper work mixed up because she had a rabies form and tag but the male cat did not. I had to take them back in to AARF yesterday for the shot. They have veterinarians that come in every Thursday to give shots. They looked at all the paperwork we were given and determined that the female had her shot and the male did not. They gave him his rabies shot and not long after getting home, maybe 2 hours, he started vomiting everywhere then itching to the point where he was scratching his skin above his eyes raw, his face and eyes also got swollen.

I called the emergency vet, actually 2 different ones, and was told by one that this was an emergency and I should bring him in. I called a 2nd one and they said it sounded like a normal reaction as long as he was not having trouble breathing. They did say I could give him benedryl but we did not have any and it was 11:00 pm. We kept an eye on him all night and he seems to be feeling better today bu still not back to his playful self. His sister sure does miss him playing with her.

Posted by Darleen (Buffalo, Ny) on 08/18/2017
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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.

Replied by Theresa
Mpls., Mn

Hey Darleen,

Vaccine reactions can show up right away or take time; 45 days isn't unusual to see a vaccine reaction. That said, at 17 years old there can be many reasons for your cat to have seizures. My advice is to take your cat to the vet to try to determine the cause of the seizures. Idiopathic epilepsy is one possibility. Doing a blood panel is minimally invasive an can provide helpful information and can point out problems with the liver and kidneys which can and do cause seizures. If liver or kidney problems show up your vet can help you with dietary changes that will give your cat added quality of life.

Posted by Paula (Ga) on 08/02/2017
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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.

Replied by Lorna
San Anselmo, California

I, too, lost my indoor only 8 year old exotic shorthair cat a year ago to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. He was on the kitchen floor one morning in distress because he couldn't move his hind legs and I rushed him to the vet only to find that his heart had thrown a clot, paralyzingly his hind legs and was failing. He had to be euthenized immediately. He had never been given any vaccines except the mild upper respiratory 3 in 1 booster and had a checkup two weeks prior to the heart incident. There was no murmur but the vet said he most likely had inherited an enlarged heart.

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.

Replied by Carol M.
Nex Millington, Tn
0 out of 5 stars

The same thing happened to my little kitten after both his vacations. The booster has been worse than the others. He is lertharic, sleepy, and just acting mad at us.

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.