I live in Texas, USA. There is plenty of wildlife around here, and thus considerable records of rabies incidents transmitted by them. We have a cat less than a year old, and had 1st rabies vaccination. He goes out almost daily and sometimes even spends the night out. He has an independent nature, and trying to restrict him indoors is likely to cause him abandon us. I have 3 kids ages ranging from 3 to 10. They all love to play with him. He is very playful. But he sometimes bites either as part of playing or to express displeasure, e.g., if my 3 year old held him against his will. It does not cause bleeding but it is likely to penetrate the skin. There are also rare incidences of scratching that cause bleeding. Should I have my kids have pre-exposure rabies vaccination as a preventive measure?

Based on what I am reading, even if the cat is exposed, rabies would not make its way to his saliva because he is vaccinated. But then, there is the chance of his rabies vaccination did not work. Even if it did work, I assume it could be possible to carry and transmit externally, e.g., nails and teeth.

Overall, if there is 1% chance over the course of say 10 years, I would take it as a considerable chance because it is a life and death matter and we may not notice our kids exposed before it is too late. In that case, would the cost and side-effects of vaccination for kids worth it?


2 Answers 2


I asked a couple of medical doctors about this and they said a rabies vaccine was not necessary. The rabies vaccine is indicated for people at high risk of exposure to the rabies virus such as researchers working with rabies, veterinarians, and animal control personnel.

They do however recommend staying current with tetanus vaccines as an outdoor cat could possibly pick up some of the bacteria that causes tetanus in their claws and possibly transmit it to a person if they scratch them.


Based on data of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of annual human fatalities due to rabies is less than 5 in the entire US. Thus, that put the chances to much less than 1% for a family of 5 over 10 years. So, I conclude it does not seem to be worth having the pre-exposure vaccination in abundance of caution.

  • that's the average risk if you have no knowledge about a person's risk category. in the extreme case, if someone is in a room with an animal with rabies, they'll be at extremely elevated risk relative to baseline. if someone lives in a small room with a wild animal with rabies, they'll be at pretty elevated risk. if someone lives with an animal at high risk for rabies, they're probably at pretty elevated risk.
    – lahwran
    Jan 27, 2018 at 23:24

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