Rabies is a disease caused by a virus found in the saliva of infected animals. Bats, raccoons, foxes, skunks, dogs, or cats are the most frequent carriers. Each year, some 7,000 animals are diagnosed with the disease in the United States. It can also be transmitted to people. Even though actual cases of the disease in humans are rare, about 22,000 people annually are treated for rabies. It takes the disease anywhere from a few days to as much as a year to develop. Once symptoms occur, it's 100 percent fatal. Rabies shots for your cat are essential, and required in most areas. A rabies vaccination is included when you take your pet in for its annual shots.