Rabies Shot Side Effects in Cats

| Modified on Dec 11, 2022

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

64 User Reviews

Posted by GrievingCatMom (Saugerties, NY) on 12/11/2022

Well last Monday my cat went to the vet for her yearly checkup and they said she was due for her rabies shot. So they gave her a 3 year shot. Two days later she was walking and her legs just gave out on her for a few seconds. She got up and was fine. It happened again the next day. By Sunday she was laying on the couch and she was growling if you went to touch her. She couldn't walk. So I brought her to the emergency vet. They did an X-ray and said she had a broken pelvis! I was in shock because I know she didn't get hurt. I told them she was just vaccinated and been acting strange ever since and they immediately dismissed me saying no it's rare for something like that to happen and she had a broken pelvis. They were going to send the x-ray for a radiologist review and I would probably hear something that night or the next day.

They said she would heal but she would have to stay in cage for six weeks so she doesn't walk around. So Monday I brought in the CD of the x-ray to my local vet so he looked at it and said yes she has a broken pelvis. Gave me some pain pills for her.

Monday night the radiologist calls me and said no, her pelvis is perfectly fine and she has no injuries. So then I mentioned to her that she just got vaccinated for rabies and she's been acting strange ever since and the radiologist said yes it could very well be from the shot.

So Tuesday morning I call my local vet and tell him I spoke to the radiologist and she doesn't have a broken pelvis but yet she is in extreme pain and cannot walk. They have me bring her in to take blood and they were going to give her some fluids and a steroid shot. My vet said there's absolutely no way it could be from the vaccine. It's got to be a coincidence. But I was not buying it. This cat was healthy as can be before she got the shot.

So when I brought her home she seemed to be a little bit better and had some mobility. But Wednesday morning it all started going downhill fast. By Friday she was completely paralyzed, drooling from the mouth, hadn't eaten or drink in two days. She was literally like a ragdoll in my hands. I was helping her in the litter box and trying to hold her up since she was dead weight. It was torture for her. She was at the point where she couldn't even lift her head and was in such pain so Friday night we brought her in so she could peacefully pass.

The vet said she was acting like she had rabies since it was all neurological and she had such a rapid decline. She admitted that it could very well have been from the shot.

I know damn well it was the shot. It's so “rare” because all the vets never want to admit it or report it because that's how they make their revenue.

I wish there were something we could have done. I will NEVER vaccinate again. Rest In Peace our beloved TK.

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Monique (NC) on 08/13/2022

I have an approximately 2yr old all black male feral cat. He had some scrapes and bruises, was examined and given a rabies shot. He is now declining in health. Pain in the injection area, which makes it hard to walk, and major lethargy. I had some pain meds left over, and that did the trick, he was pretty much his old self. But the next day, he was struggling once again. He has an appointment in a couple days.

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Robert (Silver) on 02/07/2022

I'm wondering if anybody knows what the adjuvants are inside the rabies vaccines and if they know what the misdemeanor charges are if I decide to not vaccinate my cats. I read that big pharma doesn't have to tell you what the ingredients are in the vaccines which is SUPER SUSPICIOUS . I researched it a bit and it says most vaccines all have aluminum, thimerisol, formaldehyde and msg to name a few and ALL TOXIC! I'm not about to knowingly poison my cats so they develop diseases later in life to feed the pharma monster more. Does anybody have suggestions?

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Sean (Cashmere, WA) on 11/01/2021

My healthy cat died 30 minutes after a rabies booster and B12 supplement today.

Replied by Teena
233 posts

Vaccines kill animals too, I'm so sorry.

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Deb (Alva, Fl) on 08/05/2018

My 6 year old cat had a rabies shot in November of last year. The vet accidentally gave him another 3 year vaccine last month. He appears to be ok. Will this affect him?

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Tina (Bernville) on 04/03/2018

Seizure and death after rabies vaccination

My cat Mayhem went in for his routine check-up and rabies vac yesterday. I had his sister Mischief as well. They asked if I wanted 1 or 3 and said 3. Put them in the carrying case; paid; and headed for home. They are 12 years old, 13 in Dec. About 2 miles from vet they both started vomiting. I pulled into the church parking lot and checked on them. Mischief was crouched down and Mayhem was having a seizure. I had to put a blanket between his stomach and his back legs because he was convulsing so bad that his paws were hitting the sides of his body and pulling out hair. I shut the crate and made a dash for the vet. Got there, took him out of the crate and covered him in the towel to take him inside. In the towel he defecated and peed and in my mind I knew that was it. When they go, that is the last thing they do in this condition. I still gave him to the vet and they tried to do what they could but it was too late. My previous Mayhem was gone. It is now about 12 hours later and I am like in disbelief that my baby boy is gone. His sister has vomited a few times today and I am keeping a close watch on her. Mayhem had a heart murmur and IBD and I suspect that due to the IBD he had an allergic reaction. He has had the vaccine since he was supposed to get it and never reacted like this. I will not take Mischief in for anymore shots. Distemper or anything. I am done with vaccinated her. I have two 4-year old cats that go in next week for their shots and wellness visit and am seriously thinking about not taking them. I know they recommend all these immunizations but I am really nervous now about them doing more harm them good. I am so incredibly sad right now over the loss of my boy.

Replied by Theresa
(Mpls., Mn)

Hello Tina,

I am very sorry for the loss of your Mayhem :(

If your 4 year olds have had their kitten shots, they likely do not need any more vaccinations - ever. The vaccination protocols are changing. If you Google "new veterinary vaccination protocols" you can read up and determine for yourself if you should bring ANY of your kitties in for vaccinations for the rest of their lives.

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Holly (Windham, Maine) on 03/20/2018

I had 2 perfectly healthy sister kitty's just under a year old. Brought them to vet recently to get spayed and have 1st rabies vaccine. They were confused and lethargic the day they came home, not much appetite or thirst since, they didn't seem to use the litter box much and they seemed to stay hidden and not want to come out unusual for them.on day 6 they didn't move much, fur was messy and looked unclean and I noticed labored breathing. Brought them to the vet the next morning and on the way they urinated in crate with a little blood. Vet new they were serious and he did X-rays and found blood in their chests!! About an hr later they both died!! He claimed he had no idea and suggested rat poison!? I don't own any such thing and I know in my gut it was something at the vet!! Most likely vaccine reaction!!! Makes me so angry!!!!

Replied by Shannon

So sorry for your loss. The same thing just happened with my 11 year old cat, I ended up having to put him down less than 48 hours after the rabies vaccine and they tried to tell me it was a reaction to rat poison...I know the odds of that are slim and that I brought in a healthy and happy cat in for his vaccines and now I'm mourning the loss of my boy. These vaccines are clearly dangerous and I'm so sad I didn't know beforehand.

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Lisa (Nazareth, Pa) on 03/11/2018

My cat has gone into late stage kidney failure since her rabies shot 3 weeks ago.

Will thuja help now, and what is the dosage? Rabies shot is a protein, her kidneys couldn't handle it....in just 3 weeks she went from jumping around my house, eating and drinking well, to bring lame and not eating and drinking.

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Yuri (Philippines) on 02/04/2018

My 6-month old kitty had rabies boost shot and now he couldn't eat, drink and poop. I saw a little poop like a small dot and its wet. He always sleeps and heard him growl sometimes. It's been 18hrs since he had his vaccines (4in1 and rabies booster). Is this normal? This is the first time he had reactions with vaccine. I believe this is caused by the rabies booster. By the way, Yuri is an indoor cat. He had his last vaccine today as part of his scheduled vet visit since I got him.

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Marissa (New York ) on 01/30/2018

Well, my baby girl October she's 2 and a half. About a mouth ago I got her rabies vaccine because it's against the law here if they don't have it and the vet wanted it done as well. About a week and a half later I found a lump ( January 11th) I was scared. I went to 2 vets As I explained to the vet she received her rabies shot and it was there after. She told me to wait about 4 to 6 weeks before coming back because most of the time it goes down. But it's now the 30th of January and it's still there. It seems to feel different smaller in ways. I feel it every day because I love her dearly. I'm hoping it will get smaller as the days go on. It worries me a ton because there's many side effects to this shot why is it a law to get them if we have a chance of losing our bestfriend. I hope my cat heals. Reading everyone's comments saddens me because I don't want to lose my baby. It feels like it's our faults, all I ask as a loving human being of all animals is to make the rabies vaccine safer. Safe enough for humans because animals life are just as important. Think about if you would give this shot to your kids, because a lot of people cherish their animals as they would a child. Please make vaccines safer. I love my cat more then anything and I would do anything to keep her safe but doing the right thing for her shouldn't be a disunion to think twice about. Your reply would be nice. If not I hope you find safer ways for vaccines and I hope my cat will be okay as well as all the other animals going through a hard time as well. Thank you.

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Angie (Denver, Colorado) on 01/24/2018

My 14month old cat just got his yearly rabies vaccine and his eyes are showing some swelling. Is that normal?

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Merlin (Chicago) on 11/28/2017

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.

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Katie (Ca) on 11/21/2017

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.

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Badseed33 (Minneapolis, Minnesota) on 11/07/2017

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!

Rabies Vaccine Side Effects
Posted by Kay (Mt) on 10/25/2017

Reporting bad reaction to rabies shot in my 6 month old kitten. Took her 3 weeks to eat well and start playing again.

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