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Cat Snake Bites

Poisonous and non-poisonous snakes are found throughout the United States. In Britain there is just the adder and that is very scarce. Motzie, a very famous F2 Savannah cat once caught a snake and his human companion wrote about it: Savannah cat Motzie Caught a Snake.

That is a flimsy excuse for showing this radiograph (X-ray) of a snake that I post-edited a bit.
Snake radiograph (colored by me) - Photo Nottingham Vet School.

I don't know...I just liked it. The original was in B&W but I added a bit of color and the words. That's it.

Poisonous snakes can be a hazard to domestic cats in the USA. See this visitor's post for an example: My Cat was Bitten by a Snake.

Apparently 90% of snakes bites on cats are on the head or legs. Poisonous snake bites to the cat's body are most often lethal. Poisonous snakes in the USA are:
  1. Cottonmouths - pit viper
  2. Rattlesnakes - pit viper
  3. Copperheads - pit viper
  4. Coral snakes
All four snakes are large (4-8 feet in length), have triangular heads, pits below the eyes and between the eyes, elliptical pupils, rough scales and retractable fangs on the upper jaw.

Two puncture wounds will be seen on the skin. They may be difficult to find for obvious reasons. Sudden swelling, redness and bleeding may be present at the site of the bite. The cat will be in severe pain. It may take several hours for the symptoms of a snake bite to appear.

On being bitten by a pit viper, the cat will:
  • be extremely restless
  • pant
  • drool
  • show weakness..then..
  • have diarrhoea
  • have depressed breathing
  • collapse
  • have seizures sometimes
  • be in shock
  • die, perhaps.
Coral snakes produce the following signs in a cat:
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • urinary incontinence
  • paralysis
  • convulsions
  • coma.
 Some cats survive coral snake bites.

Treatment

Get your cat to a veterinarian asap if you can get their in 30 minutes. If not do these things first:
  • keep cat quiet
  • apply a constricting bandage to a leg bite (loose enough to get finger beneath bandage). Place it between the bite and cat's heart. Loosen it every 5 minutes. 
  • don't wash the wound or apply ice or make cuts over the wound or try and suck out the venom.
Source: Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook ISBN 978-0-470-09530-0

Comments

Anonymous said…
There are rattlesnakes at one of my favorite state parks-- Devil's Lake in Baraboo, Wisconsin. But the DNR reports that almost all the snake bites there happen to pets. So long as the snakes are not cornered they pretty much leave you alone, but dogs will corner the snake, barking at it, trying to play with it, and then someone (usually the dog) gets bitten. I suppose cats would behave in a similar fashion when encountering a snake, and some snakes are probably more aggressive. I've never even seen a snake in the Baraboo bluffs, nor have any of my friends. I suppose dogs are able to sniff them out, find them when humans never would have noticed them, leading to problems when the snake feels threatened. My dad told us not to climb around on rocks that are in the direct sunlight, because snakes will come out to sun themselves. Personally, I felt that the snake out in the open is one you can see and avoid. The scariest to me would be to put a hand or foot into a crevice where a snake was hiding and surprise him. But neither ever happened. I guess it takes a dog barking his fool head off at the snake to make it strike. Dog caretakers need to be informed and vigilant if they choose to bring companion animals into an area known to contain snakes. Dogs and cats will not know to leave the snake alone, but will do exactly the opposite until the poor snake has no choice but to defend himself.
Michael Broad said…
Thanks for your useful comment. Much appreciated.

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