County of Marin - News Releases - Rabies Vaccinations

For Immediate Release
February 26, 2018

Vaccinate Your Cat for Rabies

Protect your pet, your family, and avoid lengthy quarantine

San Rafael, CA – February is National Cat Health Month, and Marin County health officials urge local residents to comply with a countywide ordinance and vaccinate domestic cats for rabies.

Black catOnly 14 counties in California require rabies vaccinations for cats. Marin is one of them.
Rabies is a rare but fatal disease and remains a concern to the health of humans, pets, livestock, and other animals. Rabies in domestic pets such as dogs and cats can serve as a bridge for transmission from wildlife areas to humans.

California law requires domestic dogs to be licensed and vaccinated against rabies, but many pet owners are not aware or non-compliant with vaccinating cats. Marin is one of 14 California counties to have adopted an ordinance requiring the rabies vaccine for cats, although the California Conference of Local Health Officers states that feline vaccination is the key to preventing rabies transmission.

In the United States, rabies is reported in cats more than any other domestic species. They can become infected through a bite of an infected animal. Cats exposed to wild animals such as bats, raccoons, and skunks are most at risk. However, even indoor cats are at risk because bats sometimes enter houses and have contact with pets. In the wild, rabies is most prevalent in bats. About 1 in 10 bats in Marin have rabies.

After a pet is bitten, it is imperative that the owner notify a veterinarian and the pet be given a rabies booster. If the wild animal is captured, the pet owner should notify Marin Humane and get it tested for rabies. If they can’t rule out rabies or the wild animal is not captured, the pet will need a 30-day monitored, home quarantine (enforced by Marin Humane officers) if the pet has been vaccinated and 180 days of home quarantine if not vaccinated.

“Most people are shocked when their pet is ordered into quarantine,” said Dr. Lisa Santora, Deputy Public Health Officer. “It can be traumatic to the pet and a tremendous hardship to the pet owner. While it is rare for humans to get rabies, the recommended post-exposure treatment can be costly when exposure is suspected.”

In 2017, seven unvaccinated cats in Marin were ordered into six months of monitored home quarantine following known or suspected rabies exposure.

Anyone who has had a bite from a wild animal should immediately contact a doctor about PEP (post-exposure prophylaxis) for rabies. Marin Humane also advises individuals to never handle bats without protection. Call Marin Humane at 415-883-4627 to get advice and arrange for bat pick-up. For more information about rabies, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.


Dr. Lisa Santora
Deputy Public Health Officer
Health and Human Services

3240 Kerner Blvd.
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 473-4163
Email: Dr. Lisa Santora
Marin HHS website