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Cats & Kittens : Health & Vet Care Last Updated: Oct 25th, 2006 - 08:57:26

What to Do when Your Cat Gets a Snake Bite
By Dewey Duke
Jan 14, 2006, 16:07

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If you are a cat owner, it is always a good idea to be prepared for pet emergencies. A good way to prepare is to have a pet first aid kit on hand to treat your cat. Cats that go outdoors are always getting hurt and into trouble. One emergency to prepare for is snakebites. While snakebites are more common in dogs than cats, it is always good to be prepared for such problems.


When preparing a first aid kit for your pet, there are several items that will help you treat your cat for snakebite. You should always have the numbers of your vet and the number to at least two 24-hour pet clinics on hand at all times. Also, have the number to poison control for both humans and animals included with your first aid kit. You will also need several bandages or torn strips of cloth in your first aid kit. Having these basic items on hand will help you quickly treat your cat after snakebite.


In the United States, there are several common poisonous snakes. Rattlesnakes, water moccasins, copperheads, and coral snakes are all poisonous. It is estimated that at least 90 percent of catís that are bit by a snake are bit on the head or leg. Bites to a catís body are almost always fatal. If you cat is bit on any part of its body, it is necessary to get your cat to medical treatment within thirty minutes. Because cats are much smaller than humans, any snakebite can cause serious damage.


When at cat suffers from a snake bit, your cat will have severe pain and immediate swelling. The symptoms of snakebite will depend on the type and size of the snake. With rattlesnakes, copperheads and moccasins, your cat will first experience restlessness, panting, drooling and general weakness of the body. This is usually followed by collapsing, seizures, and severe diarrhea. In very severe cases, the cat will go into shock and die. With a coral snake, cats will have less swelling and pain. Although these bites are still very serious, the symptoms will not be as severe. Instead, venom from the snake will affect the nervous system and cause vomiting, incontinence, paralysis, convulsions and sometimes coma.


If you know your cat has been attacked by a snake and are not sure whether or not the snake is poisonous, it is recommended to get your cat to veterinarian treatment within thirty minutes. There are many 24-hour pet clinics that can treat serious medical conditions. Call ahead to let them know you are on the way. Treatment is critical for a cat that has been bitten by a poisonous snake.


If it is not possible to get your cat to treatment within that time frame, there are a couple of things you can do to help your cat. The most important step to take is to gently, but firmly restrain your cat. Try to keep calm. A stressed cat will be much harder to handle. You cat will already be in severe pain, so it will be important to treat your cat gently. Also, movement in your cat will make the venom spread more quickly causing more damage. If your cat is moving or struggling too much, try wrapping your cat firmly in a towel.


The next step to take is to locate the exact place of the bit. Snakebites are usually characterized by two evenly spaced fang marks. There will be redness and swelling in this area. Next, you must wrap the area with bandages. If the bite is on the leg, constrict the leg by wrapping a bandage between the leg and the catís heart. Do not wrap it so tightly that is constricts blood flow. Make sure you can slip one finger under the bandages. Loosen the bandage for five minutes every hour. Get to the pet hospital as soon as possible so the cat can be treated properly.


When your cat gets snakebite, do not wash the wound or apply ice. This can increase the absorption of the venom making your cat sicker. Also it is not recommended to cut the wound or to try to suck out the venom.

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