NOTE: If you have found this post through a search for “cat reactions to vaccinations” or something similar, STOP!
If your cat (or dog) is experiencing any of the following symptoms after a vaccination, take your pet back to the vet IMMEDIATELY:
- whitish or pale gums in the mouth
- facial swelling or hives
- rapid or difficult breathing
- restlessness or difficulty settling down
The above symptoms may mean that your pet is going in to anaphylactic shock and needs IMMEDIATE medical attention to survive!
Severe reactions to vaccinations can be life threatening and are a medical emergency! Don’t wait and wonder, have your pet checked by a veterinarian ASAP!
My cat had a severe reaction to a rabies shot (I firmly believe), and only immediate medical attention saved his life. Though I’m not a vet, I’ve had cats all my life and I’ve done the research about the symptoms. Please, take care of your pet NOW, and then come back and read this post!
ALSO: Even if your pet wasn’t recently vaccinated, any of the above symptoms can still indicate a potentially life threatening condition, and your pet should be seen by a veterinarian! Insect bites or stings (and many other things as well) can also trigger anaphylactic shock, and your pet may have been stung without your knowledge. Take care of your pet NOW, and then come back and read this post!
Monday wasn’t pretty. The rest of the week hasn’t been quite as bad, but it’s not been a picnic either. But back to Monday’s issues: I took Patches and Shadow to the American vet on the Army post to have their shots. Now I usually (at least for the last year or so) don’t even do this because they don’t ever go outside, and they only see each other, and I’m still not completely convinced that it wasn’t a vaccination a couple of years ago that made Patches so sick and nearly caused his death. Yes, he was THAT sick. The vet says the vaccination was probably not the cause, but probably isn’t certainly.
This year, because of the move, I decided that vaccinations would probably be a good idea, despite my misgivings about Patches. There will be a lot of people wandering in and out of the house, so you never know what could happen with a cat getting out the door, and the house we’re moving into has been home to at least one dog for many years and who knows what kinds of germs or whatnot are there in the new house. So off to the vet we went.
After waiting over an hour to get seen, the staff then tried to tell me that the reason for the wait was because they had a military working dog come in to be seen. Um, right, would that be the one I saw walk through the door, unassisted and obviously not in need of any emergency care, about 15 minutes ago? Such great service we get here from the Army.
We finally saw the vet, and we chit-chatted about general health issues like teeth and weight and the like. Yes, Patches is still the fat boy at 17.5 lbs., but Shadow has finally outgrown his baby fat and is perfectly sized at 10.5 lbs, just like I figured he would be, though the German vet kept telling me he was too fat as well.
The vet gave them their shots and away we went toward home. Now remember that they’ve been in the cages for, hmmm, let’s see, over 2.5 hours at this point and are stressed. We arrived at home only to find that Shadow had used the cage as a litter box, and that was only the beginning of his symptoms over the next couple of hours, which included vomiting and diarrhea all over the house, and hives and facial swelling. He was having a severe reaction to one of the shots, probably the rabies vaccination, and going into anaphylactic shock.
I had to rush him to the German vet a bit later when the hives and facial swelling developed and I figured out that this wasn’t just some combination of an upset tummy, a reaction to the stress of the day and/or litter box issues because of some new food he’d had over the weekend. If I hadn’t taken him in, he would have died, but they got him on the road to recovery with a corticosteroid shot and electrolyte fluids to replace what he’d lost. They actually said he looked remarkably well when I brought him in considering what he’d been through in a bit over two hours since the shot. He’s one tough little sucker, it seems.
They kept Shadow for an hour and a half or so and then I had to pick him up and take him home. He spent the entire evening and most of the night on the move, because he itched all over and kept getting up and moving around and trying to escape the itching. When we went to bed, he tried to settle down and sleep and his little eyes were almost shut, but every two seconds, literally, he’d have to get up and move because he itched.
It was terrible and there was nothing I could do to help, though I could tell it was getting better, just very slowly, and I didn’t think that another car ride to yet another German vet, the all night emergency one, was in his best interests at that point, even though they might have been able to give him some sort of antihistamine relieve some of the itching. I wasn’t sure the further trauma of the cage and the car trip was worth it since he was on the slow road to recovery. He finally settled down sometime in the night and spent most of Tuesday semi comatose, sleeping it all off and catching up on all the sleep he missed the day before.
You can read about the symptoms of an allergic reaction to vaccinations in cats and also in dogs, just in case this has never happened to one of your babies, and I do hope it hasn’t. I’ve had cats all my life, and never had one that had a reaction to a vaccine. It was totally scary, and I know I’m going to keep track of this information and read it before they have to get shots again, which won’t be any time soon I’m afraid. I’m just not going there with either one of them unless some law says I have to vaccinate them and even then I’ll be fighting it.
The German vet and I discussed the fact that, of course, Shadow shouldn’t be given a rabies vaccination again, BUT that only works until we move back to the US, and then he has to be vaccinated to be shipped. I’m going to fight that one too, and try to get a waiver or something, because I don’t see why I should have to risk my cat’s life to ship him back to the US, and the German vet’s solution of putting the rabies shot in one hip and a corticosteroid shot in the other to hopefully counteract the rabies just seems cruel and stupid. Excuse me, but would they do that to a human being? I think not.
So Shadow has used up yet another of his nine lives, which brings his total unused lives to about seven, I think. The same German vet that fixed him up this time tried to do him in when he was just a kitten when she gave him the wrong meds or the wrong dosage in a shot, and he spent the rest of that day vomiting and then sleeping it off. The vet never would admit she goofed, but I guess she’s redeemed herself since she saved his life this time. Karma, I tell you. I do believe in karma.
Well, maybe his total is actually six lives left out of his nine, since there was that time I almost killed him after the chicken broth incident. It’s a lot funnier now than it was back then! He seems to be fully recovered from his ordeal on Monday, so we’re all glad for that. Now if I can just have a quiet day on Friday, then it’ll be the weekend…
Edit: I’ve just done some Internet sleuthing (despite Google being MIA; how weird is that that Google has gone missing today? I feel crippled without my Google Search!) and I found the animal importation regulations at the Centers for Disease Control, and they say:
Although cats are not subject to rabies vaccination regulations, CDC strongly advises all cat owners to have their pets vaccinated against rabies as a precaution. (emphasis added)
Very interesting. The same does not apply for dogs, which must be vaccinated against rabies if they are coming from a country that is not rabies free (as determined by the World Health Organization, I think). This is NOT what any of the veterinarians over here will tell you, either. I wonder how many people I’ll have to beat over the head with this regulation when the time comes before they’ll let me ship Shadow back to the US without a rabies vaccination. *sigh* I’m sure it will be many. Well, that’s for dealing with sometime in the sorta far future, like three to five years from now or so, since that’s how long the Army wants to employ ITMan in Heidelberg.