Snake Bite On A Cat: Symptoms, Treatment & More

Has your cat been bitten by a snake? While most snakes aren't venomous, it's still crucial to your pet's wellbeing to seek immediate medical attention.

Tara Maurer holding cat smiling

Last Updated: November 29, 2023 | 7 min read

Cat about to be bit by a snake outside.

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Have you noticed a snake bite on your cat? Or do you suspect a snake has bitten your pet? Felines, being natural hunters, are vulnerable to snake bites—especially in warm climates or seasons. Your pet’s reaction to a snake bite will vary due to several factors: the type of snake, the location of the bite, and the amount of venom injected into your pet.

If you believe your feline has been bitten, stay calm and bring them to the veterinarian immediately. If you witnessed the attack and can identify the snake, tell this information to the vet. Do not try to catch or kill the reptile; if it’s already dead, take a picture to help with identification. If you didn’t witness the attack, your vet may perform diagnostic (urine or blood) tests to determine if your feline was bitten and what animal was responsible.

While not all serpents are venomous, if a venomous reptile bit your pet, chances of recovery are much greater with early treatment. Your pet’s care team will administer antivenom to assist in healing. A feline left untreated will have a lower survival rate.

What Should I Do If My Cat Has Been Bitten By A Snake?

If you know a snake has bitten your pet, the best step you can take is to bring them to an emergency vet clinic quickly. The faster your cat receives treatment, the greater the chance of survival. In the interim, you can apply a pressure bandage around the injury to slow the spread of venom to the heart. Bites closer to the heart will spread venom quicker to the rest of the body. If possible, keep the bitten area still and lower than the heart.

Never attempt to suck out the venom or apply a tourniquet to a snake wound. A tourniquet localizes the venom, causing tissue damage and permanent disfiguration. It can also make treatment at the vet more complicated. If the tourniquet is loosened too quickly, it can create a venom mass in the bloodstream. Usually, venom spreads, diluting the toxin and making it easier to treat with antivenom.

It’s a good idea to call ahead to verify that the center you are visiting has antivenom on hand. If they do not, ask for a referral to somewhere that does. When transporting your pet to the vet, keep them calm and comfortable. Limit their movement as much as possible. When you arrive at the medical center, be prepared to answer questions about your feline’s location and environment when they sustained the injury.

Cat Snake Bite Symptoms

Different snakes will create different symptoms in your pet. The following are the most common symptoms of venomous snake bites:

  • Bleeding from wound
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Convulsions (seizures)
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fainting
  • Fang marks on skin
  • Fever
  • Increased thirst
  • Loss of coordination
  • Paralysis
  • Rapid pulse
  • Severe pain at bite site
  • Skin discoloration (redness, bruising)
  • Swelling at the bite location
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

Venomous bites are often immediately painful, as is the case with rattlesnake, cottonmouth, and copperhead bites. If bitten by one of these snakes, your kitty will likely scream when touched. Coral snake bites may be painless initially, and symptoms might not develop for hours. This delayed response is another reason why it’s essential to seek medical help immediately if you are unsure what type of snake has bitten your feline.

What Does A Snake Bite Look Like On A Cat?

Types of snake bites on cats graphic.

Cats are most likely to receive a bite on their legs. Typically, non-venomous snake bites will appear in a horseshoe shape and may be accompanied by bleeding but not significant swelling.

Alternatively, venomous snake bites will appear as two punctures in the skin. The area around the wound will appear swollen.

Treatment For A Snake Bite On A Cat

In the case of a venomous snake, the emergency vet will administer antivenom and will likely be hospitalized for several days. Intravenous fluids, oxygen supplementation, and/or feeding tubes may be required. Your feline may also need rehabilitation in the event of muscle damage. The costs of antivenom and additional care are high. Thankfully, pet insurance will often cover treatment.

Keep in mind that of the approximately 3,000 species of snakes worldwide, only 10 to 15 percent of them are poisonous. If you know a non-poisonous snake has bitten your pet, you should still schedule an appointment with a non-emergency veterinarian for a checkup.

In both scenarios, your vet may wish to prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. These prescriptions generally last one to four weeks.

Can A Cat Survive A Snake Bite Without Treatment?

According to Embrace Pet Insurance, pit vipers (rattlesnakes, copperheads, and cottonmouths) are responsible for 99 percent of the estimated 300,000 venomous snake bites sustained by domestic animals yearly, with rattlesnake bites being the most common among these. And while, according to one studyfelines are twice as likely to survive a poisonous snakebite than dogs, quick treatment with antivenom is still crucial for survival. If immediate treatment is not given, venomous bites can be fatal.

Thankfully, most snakes in North America are not venomous. In these cases, the most significant risk is infection. If a non-venomous snake injures your feline, the first step is to wash the wound with soap and water to clean the injury. A cat can survive a non-venomous snakebite without further treatment. However, your vet will likely recommend antibiotics to remove harmful bacteria left by the snake bite. For those cat parents who can’t or do not wish to use antibiotics on their pet, consider natural remedies like colloidal silver or plantain leaf to heal the wound and prevent infection.

Infected Snake Bite On A Cat

Does your feline’s snake bite look red, rashy, and inflamed? Is there pus or fluid leaking out of the wound? Check the bite to see if it feels warm to the touch. Superficial skin reddening, swelling, discoloration, local warmth, pus, lymphangitis, and delayed healing are all signs of an infected bite.

If your feline received a bite that later gets infected, there are a few steps you can take. First, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for treatment. Snake bites tend to be very unclean, and if infected, your vet will prescribe antibiotics to rid your cat’s body of harmful bacteria. 

Talk to your vet about supplementing with a probiotic in conjunction with antibiotic treatment. Antibiotics fight harmful bacteria but also kill the beneficial bacteria in your cat’s gut that are essential for digestion and immune support. Giving your feline a probiotic supplement while on antibiotics will offset bacteria loss and prevent harmful side effects, including antibiotic-associated diarrhea. In particular, the bacteria strain Saccharomyces boulardii helps avoid digestive upset caused by antibiotics. 

Alternatively, there are many natural antimicrobial herbs and formulas that you can use to prevent and treat infections.

3 Home Remedies For Snake Bites On Cats

There are no home remedies for venomous snake bites, but in the case of non-venomous bites, there are some cat-safe topical options for preventing and treating infections. Many of these products you may already have in your kitchen or medicine cabinet.

1. Calendula

The sunny yellow-orange calendula blossom is considered the “cortisone cream” of the herbal world (though it works differently). Calendula speeds wound healing, reduces inflammation, and is a mild antimicrobial. Calendula is safe for both topical and internal use in cats.

Mix three tablespoons of dried herb with one cup of boiling water to make a calendula wash. Allow the blend to sit and cool. Once room temperature, strain the water. You can then use this in a compress or spray. Apply twice daily.

Calendula is also available as a tincture, salve, or cream. Ensure the product that you choose is feline-safe. View our top calendula picks in our article discussing Neosporin alternatives for felines.

2. Colloidal Silver

Colloidal silver is well-known in natural medicine as a treatment for bacterial, fungal, and viral infections. Colloidal silver also helps calm skin inflammation, reduce swelling, and remove the skin out of skin irritations.

You may already have colloidal silver in your first aid kit. This product is safe for felines as long as it includes no other non-cat-friendly ingredients. You can also purchase a colloidal silver first aid gel specific to pets.

3. Plantain

The plantain plant is a common garden weed that can be found everywhere, from parking lots and cracks in pavement to woodland trails. Plantain is unrelated to the plantain fruit, a type of banana.

Plantain leaf helps soothe and heal wounds. It is a traditional remedy for snake bites, though you should absolutely seek medical attention if a venomous snake has bitten your feline. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce swelling. The plant may ease skin irritations, stinging, and pain.

If you can locate fresh plantain, create a poultice with the mashed leaves. Otherwise, purchase a plantain salve and apply it twice daily to promote healing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions frequently asked about snake bites and cats. Don’t see yours? Ask us in the comments.

How Do I Treat A Snake Bite On A Cat At Home?

Unless you are an expert, it’s best to treat any snake bite as potentially venomous and immediately seek out a veterinary clinic or animal hospital. Treating your cat at home may be tempting to avoid expensive medical costs, but this could be highly detrimental to your furry friend. Instead, consider purchasing cat insurance before any accidents occur.

How Can I Help Protect My Cat From Snakes?

Serpent bites are a common occurrence in pets worldwide and can often be fatal. Felines love to explore, hunt, and chase, and with this comes potential contact with reptilesThe best way to keep your cat safe is to keep them indoors. Not only does this protect your cat from reptiles, but it also protects them from other dangers, including contagious diseases, parasites, and accidental injuries. Pet insurance assists in covering the cost of unexpected accidents and illness so you can instead focus on your furry friend’s health.

Alternatively, you can remove items in your yard that attract snakes. This includes wood piles, large rocks, water features, and overgrown grass. Snakes like cover, so try to remove potential shady spots. 

Consider Pet Insurance

A snake bite on a cat is a serious matter. It’s best to be prepared before the event occurs in such situations. Familiarize yourself with snakes in your area and the protocol for caring for a snake bite. Owners must remember to remain calm and take quick steps to care for their pets. Consider purchasing pet insurance, which can help cover care costs in an emergency.

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