Snakebites occur more commonly in the warmer months of the year but they can occur all year round. Cats are very inquisitive and like to stalk and pounce on the snakes, often with deadly consequences.
Although Cats are more resistant to the venom of snakebites than dogs and survival rates are generally higher, it is still advisable to contact your vet immediately if you suspect a snake has bitten your cat so antivenom can be given. The type of antivenom given depends on the type of snake but if the snake is not seen or identified the choice can be made on the geographical area, snake venom detection kits or several antivenoms can be given.
Hospitalisation will also be required for a few days to prevent dehydration and help keep the cat’s body temperature stable while it is paralysed.
First aid includes keeping your pet quiet and applying a pressure bandage – just a firm bandage of any material over and around the bite site – if practical. Never apply a tourniquet, wash or cut the wound site.
Symptoms of a snake bite
- Dilated pupils
- Muscle weakness
- Rapid pulse
- Laboured breathing
- What to do if your cat is bitten by a snake?
If possible, try to identify the snake. However, don’t waste time trying to locate the snake. If the snake is still in the area, do not approach it. Have a look at it from a distance, and make a note of it’s appearance including colour, patterns & length. Even if the snake is dead, do not touch it as a dead snake can still retain a reflexive action for up to an hour after death.
Get your cat to the veterinarian immediately.
On the way to the veterinarian do the following:
- Remove the cat’s collar
- Keep the bitten area lower than the heart.
- Keep the cat quiet & calm.
- Immobilise the area if possible.
- Apply a pressure bandage between the bite & the heart.
- If there is no heartbeat or pulse, administer CPR.
What NOT to do:
- Do NOT allow your cat to walk.
- Do NOT cut the bitten area.
- Do NOT attempt to suck the venom out of the bite.
- Do NOT apply a tourniquet.
Keeping snakes out of your garden
Again prevention is better than cure, try and keep snakes out of your garden, make your garden in to an environment which isn’t attractive to snakes.
- Keep the garden free of long or overgrown plants.
- Keep the garden free of debris, such as corrugated iron, building materials, old junk etc.
- Keep your lawn short.
- Don’t leave containers of water lying around.
- If you have a shed, keep it free or rodents.
- Remove fallen fruit from the ground as this encourages rodents, which will in turn encourage snakes.
- Avoid wood piles, especially in the summer months. If you do have a wood pile, make sure it is well away from your house & not accessible to your cats or children.
- Avoid rockeries, which provide an excellent habitat for snakes to hide.