Join the movement to protect cats

Sign up for our mailing list and learn how you can help us win the battle against unnecessary killing of cats. Sign up now »

Rabies: A Public Health Victory

The rabies risk associated with feral cat colonies is negligible, but sometimes it still comes up when discussing outdoor cats. Studies show that feral cats are healthy. Their home is outdoors, and they are part of our landscape. Rabies is often misguidedly used to justify the continued use of “roundups” of feral cats, which has resulted in decades of catch and kill schemes. In fact, feral cats are not a reservoir for rabies, and the virus itself is not nearly the threat it once was in the United States. There has not been a single case of a human contracting rabies from a cat in the past 40 years in the U.S.

Despite the hyped-up media attention rabies receives, rabies control efforts are actually a public health victory—there were only 31 confirmed cases of rabies in humans in America from 2003 to June 2013.1 None of those cases were known to have come from cats. Billed as a “killer disease,” rabies cases in humans are highly uncommon and also highly preventable.

Alley Cat Allies has the facts on rabies to shatter the myths about the disease—so that you fully understand and can inform others. Armed with this information, you can spread the word that feral cats are an extremely negligible rabies risk.

Here you’ll find a full-range of information and facts about the rabies virus: its low prevalence in feral cats, that rabies vaccinations are protocol in Trap-Neuter-Return programs, how long rabies vaccines last, the history of rabies in the United States, and information on programs that have been proven effective in targeting the true sources of rabies: wildlife.


[1] Dyer JL, Wallace R, Orciari L, Hightower D, Yager P, Blanton JD. “Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2012.” J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2013;243(6):805-15. doi: 10.2460/javma.243.6.805.