Your pet won't display signs of the disease immediately after being bitten or scratched. The virus takes a while to make its way to the brain, at which point signs will start to appear. This time, known as the incubation period, can last anywhere between two and six weeks.
Feline rabies causes cats to change their behavior dramatically. If yours has always been shy, then he will become aggressive suddenly. Animals that aren't usually affectionate will become so. This stage of the disease only lasts a couple of days.
The next stage that cats can experience after being infected with the virus is the furious stage. As its name suggests, felines will become very irritable and furious. They will want to stay in a dark location away from all sounds and lights since both will cause issues with them. At this stage of feline rabies, cats can start to have seizures and may die.
If not, they will progress to the final stage of cat rabies, the paralytic phase. The virus will start to cause problems with various nerves and muscles around the body. The ones near the jaw and diaphragm are usually affected first, causing felines lose their ability to swallow or breathe effectively. Cats die as a result of respiratory failure within days of entering this phase.
There is no way to diagnose rabies in cats while they are still alive. Once the disease has run its course and the animal has passed away, the brain can be examined to determine if the rabies virus was truly the cause.
Even if feline rabies were capable of being diagnosed quickly, there is still no treatment for it. Cats almost always die from the disease. A few fortunate felines have lived through an infection though, but it's very rare.
It is very easy to prevent this fatal disease. Simply have your cat vaccinated. While the vaccination is still effective, there is a very little chance that your cat will develop the disease, even after being bitten by an infected animal.
Many, if not most states, have long had laws on the books making it mandatory for dog owners to have their pets vaccinated. Some are starting to make it a requirement for cat owners too. Even if it's not mandatory in your area, you should still have your pet vaccinated for feline rabies.