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Rabies vaccination, help and advice desperately needed


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My husband and I hope to move to Limousin (Haute Vienne 87) this year, with our cat, Louis.

As Louis has had an allergic skin reaction to the FELV vaccination (and booster), my homeopathic vet feels he may not be a good candidate for the Rabies vaccination, essential if Louis is to move with us.

Can any cat owners now in France share their experiences of their cats' reaction to the Rabies jab?

Also, a DEFRA employee told me that an annual Rabies vaccination is now mandatory in France. Is this true?

Is the Limousin a rabies-controlled area?

I feel I could take the risk of subjecting Louis to one rabies injection but not one a year.

Any advice and relevant experiences eagerly wanted and gratefully received.

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After the outbreak in Bordeaux a couple of years back I would urge everyone with pets to keep up the rabies vaccine,many animals were destroyed that had no proof of vaccinations uncessarily. Up here in Brittany the authorities worry a lot about animals being brought in by gypsys from north africa that are smuggled and being near to channel ports presents a large risk for non-vaccinated pets.
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Our cat Buzby had a mild reaction to his second rabies injection (in

France) and a severe reaction to his third.  When he went in recently

for his annual FELV boosters the vet assured us it was very unlikely he

would have any reaction as the formulations were quite different.  We

were half way home when he started panting, shaking and being generally

very unwell.  After a quick dash back to the vet he was given an

antidote and was kept there under observation for several hours.  It

transpires he is allergic to the carrier formulation used here for most

injections - now this is known he can have the antidote before the

injection which should hopefully solve the problem.  A friend here has

a dog who has a bad skin reaction to the dog equivalent of the FELV

jabs (frenzied scratching to ease the itching) but not rabies and she

finds the administration of an antidote (I think it's a form of

antihistamine) each time before the jab does the trick. 

We were very tempted to just stop Buzby's injections altogether; it

seems awful to take a healthy cat into the vet and allow him to become

so ill.  But we will try once more, with the pre-injection antidote,

and if all is well we will continue.  Although we have no intention of

returning to live in the UK circumstances change, as readers of this

forum know only too well, so that is our main motive for keeping him up

to date with the rabies jabs at least.  They are done annually here -

but I think if you ask about the pre-jab antihistamine before Louis has

his initial vaccination in England then at least you will be able to

assess whether this does the trick.  And if it does - make sure your

vet writes down exactly what the problem is and what he used to

counteract it.  If he comes through happily then he will be able to

have the same procedure in France.  If he still has a very bad reaction

then I can only tell you what my own decision would have been  (and we

have yet to try the antihistamine before the jabs) and that would be if

you are committed to coming to France then bring Louis anyway.  There

are occasionally rabies scares which means draconian measures against

unvaccinated animals but they are comparatively few and far between. 

Responsible pet owners make sure their animals are up to date with

their jabs but large numbers of animals never have any - as far as I

know there is no policy of inspection of certificates unless there is

an outbreak.  If you can work out a regime with your French vet so that

Louis can be protected without suffering then that would obviously be

the best result.  We have found the vets here helpful and knowledgeable

and I am sure they will do their very best to find a solution to the


Best of luck - I will be interested to hear whether Louis has the

antihistamine jab before the rabies shot and whether it makes life

easier for him,


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I would make sure you keep up with rabies injections, as my sisters cat had to be quarantined for months in the old days, but is there another base for the vacine?  As a human sufferer of allergies to basal carriers I know they provide different, though sometimes more expensive, carriers - I'm sure there may be something for felines etc...

I'm pleased to say that our cat goes to the vet and comes back with no problems, he's also going to need a new passport soon, as we travel alot.


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Thanks for the responses to this. It really is a difficult decision as Louis was a rescue cat originally, then rehomed by an elderly man who died and has now been with us for the past year and a half. He's only 4 and just starting to come out of his shell and be an affectionate boy. The homeopathic vet at the practice I use over here warned me that a cat with Louis' allergic disposition could become epileptic or aggressive (personality change) as a result. But, of course, nothing is guaranteed. It's trying to balance the psychological damage it will do to Louis' ability to relax and trust if we rehome him yet again against the potential physical harm it will cause him to give him the injection. And, it doesn't help that we adore him and don't want to lose him.

It's interesting, this information about the basal carriers. I shall have to look into it more carefully. If we do decide to chance it, we will be preparing him homeopathically for the jab as well, as homeopathy has proved incredibly effective in treating Louis' various itches - and it can't be placebo, as Louis has no idea he's having anything!

Hey ho. Animals are such a responsibility, yet I can't imagine my life without one. And then there are all the ticks and mites and parasites that come with living in a hot country. Louis' skin flares up with plain old Frontline! My two cats before Louis lived until 17 without 1 millionth of the problems Louis has had in the last 18 months! I'm not sure there is a perfect answer to this. It's going to be a compromise whatever. I'm just not sure Louis' immune system is up to the task...

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