12 answers

Rabies from a Cat Scratch?

So last night a tom cat started yowling outside our bedroom window and our dog went nuts. This has been going on every few days for about a month. We are all sound asleep and then the dog goes nuts barking because the cat is in his yard. It is taking years off my life to go from sound asleep to yelping, angry dog and we are losing sleep too. So last night, I put dog on leash and went to chase away the cat, which I now know was very stupid. We turned a corner, surprised cat, surprised us. Result is a scratch for me and one for the dog. I mentioned this to a friend at work (because I have been around animals all my life and have never had this particular experience, and she kind of freaked me out and said I should call my doctor because the cat was aggressive and I should be very worried about rabies.) So if any of you know anything about this or have had this experience and could offer insight, that would be great. Should I be worried? I plan on calling the vet tomorrow and will see what he says, but I thought I would see if anyone here has some ideas. And yes, as I said, I know I did a stupid, dangerous thing that could have seriously hurt my dog. And no, I would not have let him hurt the cat; I just wanted the cat to go away and thought he might if he saw the dog. I really wanted to sleep!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks so much for all the great comments. I really appreciate them. I called the vet and asked my questions. The tech on the phone started chuckling right when I mentioned my plan to go out with the dog while in my PJs...she basically knew exactly what happened at that point. Like many of you she said there is much more concern about bites rather than scratches.
I did clean both scratches well and all seems fine so far.
I will definitely try the cayenne pepper if the cat comes back and will absolutely NOT try to take on a angry tom cat again!

Featured Answers

You can also get rabies if a rabid animal gets saliva into a wound (cut etc) on you (not just biting). Don't think you have much to worry about a scratch. Just call the vet...(they'd know) just in case.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers

You most definately CANNOT get rabies from a cat scratch! Rabies only gets transmitted if you get BIT by a carrier of rabies. Best thing to do when scratched is to wash it out with antibacterial soup and dry it off completely, which I'm sure you did. You will be fine.

4 moms found this helpful

That is a perfectly normal act of a cat surprised by a dog/human, and acting on the defensive.

Also, the rabies virus is spread though the bacteria in the mouth (in the saliva) of infected animals, not through scratches. So, if you weren't bitten, you're not at risk of rabies.

You are, however, at risk of getting infected with cat scratch fever, which is a bacterial infection due to the scratch (cats have lots of nasty bacteria under their claws--think about the fact that they use their paws to bury their poop.... Make sure the scratch is cleaned well and apply a disinfectant/neosporin, and see your doc right away if it appears infected.

3 moms found this helpful

I have never heard of anyone getting rabies from a scratch. I honestly think you have to be bitten, but I could be wrong. Just because the cat was aggressive doesn't mean it has rabies. If it's feral and on it's own, that can be quite common, especially if it was startled.

Your story reminded me of something that my grandmother did years ago. I hadn't met my husband yet, and I'm pretty sure my grandfather was still with us (I could be wrong on that point), so this was somewhere between 10 & 15 years ago. At that time, my grandparents had a whole passel of half feral cats that lived on their back porch. One evening, it was late, she heard some of the cats yowling and going nuts. She thought a dog was bugging them or something so she goes running out in her flip flops and a fly swatter. As soon as she gets into the driveway, the motion lights come on and she hears something crashing away in the brush and tree's bordering the back of the property (they lived out in the country). Of course, as she's coming in my mom is scolding her saying that it could have been a coyote or an aggressive dog and how she could have been hurt. She agrees with mom, we all got to bed and forget about it. Well, the next day a friend that lived a mile or so up the road called and told Grandma that a cougar had been spotted in the area, to keep an eye out for it and to expect a few cats to go missing before it wandered off or animal control took care of it. Of course, that scared Grandma, got her worrying so out she goes with her shotgun to check out the area and sure enough there were cougar prints out in the back area.

So yes, in times like that, even if you're exhausted or whatever, if you don't know exactly what's going on, just don't chance it! There could have been something else scratching you then a crazy cat!

3 moms found this helpful

According to our vet, there hasn't been a known case of rabies in Santa Clara county in over 23 years, thouhg I know you're in Alameda Cty, which is right next door. If anything, the scratch may get infected if you don't clean it well and put medicinal salve on it.
Next time, turn the hose on the cat. You might also try sprinkling a full container of cayenne powder in the area where this cat likes to rest at night. Naval jelly, though messy, is a good deterent too. It gets on their paws, then in their mouth when they preen, however it won't hurt them. If it still continues to choose near your bedroom window, rent a trap from the SPCA and catch the animal. Many years ago we had trouble with a cat who did the same as your tom cat. It took 3 days to catch it after baiting the trap with sardines. Animal control took care of it after that.
Good luck

2 moms found this helpful

You can also get rabies if a rabid animal gets saliva into a wound (cut etc) on you (not just biting). Don't think you have much to worry about a scratch. Just call the vet...(they'd know) just in case.

1 mom found this helpful

I dont think you can get rabies, but you CAN get cat scratch fever....its not just a 70's song!!! I knew a man YEARS back that got cat scratch fever..it was pretty serious. I am thinking that if you do get CSF, it happens relatively quick....you are probably in the clear.

1 mom found this helpful

Rabies is transmitted through saliva, so unless you or the dog were bitten, you don't need to worry. Having said that, the situation you described does not sound like an animal with rabies. It just sounds like a startled, high strung cat who is used to defending himself when he's cornered/threatened/

If the cat's out there yowling, it is probably a female in heat. I would borrow a cat trap from animal services and have her spayed. That should take care of the problem, and you will not end up with a bunch of kittens in the yard. She doesn't sound like a rabid cat to me, she sounds like a feral cat who was surprised. I would worry more about kittens than rabies, though I would sanitize the cuts and keep a close eye on them. Good luck!

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