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My Cat Killed a Bat, What Do I Do Now?

Cats are nocturnal creatures, and so are bats. It’s no surprise that your cat brought you a midnight snack. However, killing a bat can quickly go from a minor to a major problem.

Bats are notorious for carrying rabies, leptospirosis, ABLV, and other harmful diseases that could hurt you and your cat. This doesn’t mean you should panic, but it does mean you should act quickly.  If this is relevant to you, keep reading.

divider-catclaw1What to Do When Your Cat Kills a Bat

If your cat brings home a bat as a present, don’t leave it on the ground. Another animal or human could pick it up and spread diseases. Instead, follow these three simple steps:

1. Find Some Gloves and a Plastic Bag

Plastic Bag
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Don’t touch the bat with bare hands. Bats can quickly spread disease this way, so ensure your hands are well protected. Find some gloves and a plastic bag or any other disposable container.

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2. Using Gloves, Place the Bat in a Plastic Bag

Wearing your gloves, place the bat in the plastic bag. Dispose of the gloves and wash your hands (put on a fresh pair of gloves the next time you handle the bag), but don’t throw the bat away. Your vet may want to ship it to a lab for testing.

If you don’t feel comfortable handling the bat, that’s okay. Call your local animal control for assistance.

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3. Call Your Veterinarian and Family Doctor

vet holding burma cat
Image Credit: Elpisterra, Shutterstock

Call your veterinarian and explain everything. Call your family doctor after you get off the phone with your vet. Let them know if anyone else has had contact with the bat.

yarn ball dividerWhat’s the Likelihood of My Cat Contracting Rabies?

Bats tested for rabies often test positive because cats like to prey on them when they’re sick or injured. Bats and cats are also nocturnal, so cats can hunt them when bats are out and about.

Unfortunately, cats are less likely to be vaccinated against rabies than dogs. It becomes a recipe for disaster if the bat is infected.

It’s hard to tell the likelihood of your cat becoming infected because bats don’t show signs outwardly. You will have to send the bat off to a laboratory for testing to know for sure.

Vaccinated Cats

While you wait for results, you can take care of your cat. Here’s what to expect if your cat is vaccinated against rabies or is overdue for vaccination.

  • Your cat will be re-vaccinated against rabies (regardless of vaccine status)
  • Your cat will be quarantined for 45 days under your supervision

Any signs of illness should be evaluated by a veterinarian. If the symptoms point to rabies infection, your veterinarian will sadly recommend euthanasia.

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bengal cat and vet
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Unvaccinated Cats

Veterinarians will most likely recommend immediate euthanasia for cats that were never vaccinated against rabies. However, if you don’t want to euthanize your cat, here’s what you’ll need to do:

  • Your cat will be vaccinated against rabies
  • You’ll place your cat under strict quarantine for 4–6 months

Your vet should be informed of any signs of illness. This may result in recommended euthanasia.

Why Do Bats Have So Many Diseases?

Aside from seeing bats at the zoo, most people don’t know much about these creatures. There’s a lot that makes them unique from other mammals besides the ability to fly. For starters, they seem to carry and tolerate more harmful diseases than other mammals.

The simple answer to this is their immune system. Bats have an immune system that can stop viruses from destroying their bodies far better than other animals.

It all boils down to interferons—proteins produced by animal cells that prevent viruses from multiplying and spreading. All mammals have interferons, including you and your cat. But bats can create more interferons than other mammals thanks to their interesting genetics.

Even so, bats are no match for rabies. Eventually, a rabid bat becomes sick and dies. A sick or injured bat is likely to be captured by a predator like a cat. This is one major reason why vaccinating your cat is vital.

Sick cat in animal hospital
Image Credit: Kachalkina Veronika, Shutterstock

Bat-Proofing Your Home Humanely

Bats like to live near civilization because that’s where they’ll find a steady supply of food and shelter with regulated temperatures. A great way to keep everyone safe is to bat-proof your home before it becomes an issue.

Bats are vital to our ecosystem, so you want to humanely remove bats from your home as best you can. Several bat species are federally protected anyway.

Luckily, removing bats isn’t too difficult. One way is to find a local bat rescue or wildlife rehabilitation center. They can provide space and resources for the bats without killing them.

You can also try a bat valve device. This will attach to openings where bats can enter your home. The device allows bats to exit the space safely but blocks them from ever re-entering. There are also bat-repellent sound devices and scent packs you can try.

All these options will keep bats away without harming you, your pets, or the bats. It’s a win-win for everyone!

divider-catclaw1Wrapping It Up

It’s one thing when your cat delivers a dead bird. It’s another when your cat offers a dead bat as a gift. Try not to panic when this happens. Instead, act swiftly and call your veterinarian and family doctor right away. The sooner you act, the better the results for everyone involved.

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Featured Image Credit: davemhuntphotography, Shutterstock

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