Rattlesnakes are common here in Southern California, particularly the western diamondback. While much is known about rattlesnake bites in humans and dogs, less research has been done on the effects of, and treatment for, rattlesnake bites in cats.
Recently, a study of cats bitten by rattlesnakes was published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care. Eighteen cats bitten by rattlesnakes and referred to a Southern California emergency clinic were studied. Fifteen of the cats survived but three died. Two of the cats developed partial paralysis of the back legs. None of the cats experienced adverse reactions to the anti-venom.
Interestingly, there were 367 cases of dog rattlesnake bites at the same clinic. Dogs are at greater risk for snake bites when they accompany their owners on hiking and camping trips. Rattlesnake bites are much less common in cats, but cat owners should still be aware of the dangers posed by snakes if they let their cats outside.
Here are a few tips on snake-proofing your yard:
- Keep your grass short and your yard free of overgrown plants, woodpiles, rocks and debris, all favorite snake habitats.
- Be sure to remove any containers filled with water.
- Control rodents (snake food!) by removing fallen fruit from the ground and keeping sheds rodent-free.
For more on the study, check out the Winn Feline Foundation blog HERE.