Rabid Cat Confirmed in Smithfield, Rhode Island

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The Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Health (HEALTH) are advising people in the area of Birch Road in Smithfield that an owned pet cat that succumbed while exhibiting signs of rabies has been confirmed positive for rabies. The cat is described as an eight year-old female orange-gray calico or tiger cat. Anyone who may have had contact with this cat should contact HEALTH for evaluation at the following numbers: 222-2577 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and 272-5952 if calling after hours or over the weekend.

If you have a domestic animal that may have had contact with this cat, you should contact Smithfield Animal Control at 233-1055 so that an animal control officer can evaluate.

According to RI State Veterinarian Scott Marshall, DVM of DEM's Division of Agriculture, this particular rabies case is unusual for the state in that it occurred in an owned/pet cat that was allowed to go outdoors. There is no verifiable proof that this cat has ever been vaccinated against rabies. As a result of this cat contracting rabies, there have been at least 20 possible human exposures and at least one other household pet (a dog) that has been exposed. Eleven individuals have been treated with rabies vaccine so far, and additional assessments are in progress. All dogs, cats, and ferrets are required by State Law to have current vaccination against rabies. Vaccination of pet animals prevents them from contracting rabies and therefore prevents people from becoming exposed to rabies from their pets. HEALTH and DEM make the following recommendations:

  • Make sure your dogs, cats, and ferrets are properly vaccinated against rabies. It is the law.
  • Avoid all contact with stray or free-roaming domestic animals.
  • Avoid all contact with wild animals.
  • Secure all trash so that animals will not be attracted to it.
  • Do not feed animals outdoors as this feeding will attract other animals. This is especially dangerous when feeding large numbers of free-roaming cats.
  • Call HEALTH if you have had any contact with a stray or free roaming domestic animal, or a wild animal.
  • Call your local animal control officer if an animal you own has had contact with a stray or free roaming domestic animal, or wild animal.