Can A King Snake Kill A Cat?

King snakes are nonvenomous constrictor snakes found throughout the Americas. They get their name from eating other snakes, including venomous ones like rattlesnakes. King snakes come in a variety of colors, but the most common patterns feature black, red, and yellow banding. These opportunistic snakes will eat other small animals too, including rodents, birds, eggs, and occasionally cats.

While king snakes are not venomous, their powerful constricting abilities allow them to suffocate prey. Their diverse diet and ability to kill rattlesnakes leads some cat owners to worry king snakes may attack and potentially kill cats if they interact. However, conflicts between cats and king snakes are rare, and the risk is typically low.

King Snake Diet

In the wild, king snakes are carnivorous and have a varied diet consisting mostly of other reptiles, amphibians, birds, bird eggs, and small mammals (King Snake Care Sheet). They are powerful constrictors that overpower and kill their prey by coiling around it and squeezing tightly. Some of the common prey items for king snakes include:

  • Other snakes – King snakes get their name from their ability to hunt and eat venomous snakes like rattlesnakes, copperheads, and coral snakes. They are immune to the venom of these species.
  • Lizards – Small lizards are frequently eaten by king snakes.
  • Frogs and toads – These amphibians often fall victim to king snakes.
  • Birds and bird eggs – King snakes will raid nests and eat eggs and nestlings.
  • Small rodents – Mice, voles, and other small mammals are readily eaten.
  • Turtle eggs – The soft eggs of turtles are a prime target for king snakes.

The specific diet of a king snake depends on its size and the prey available in its habitat. Hatchlings and juveniles start off feeding on insects, frogs, lizards, and pinky mice before gradually moving on to larger prey as adults (What Do Kingsnakes Eat?). In captivity, they are commonly fed pre-killed rodents like mice and rats matched to the appropriate size of the snake.

King Snake and Cat Interactions

King snakes do not typically prey on cats. While king snakes are powerful constrictors that can kill small rodents and other snakes, they generally do not target larger animals like cats (

Cats are much larger than a king snake’s normal prey items, so they are not seen as a regular food source. Additionally, cats have sharp claws and quick reflexes that help defend them from potential predators.

Though rare, there are isolated incidents of pet king snakes killing kittens or cats under 5 pounds. However, these events almost always involve very small kittens or debilitated cats that could not properly defend themselves (

In general, king snakes and cats may be curious about each other but they tend to ignore one another. Cats are not a normal prey item for king snakes in the wild.

Can a King Snake Kill a Cat?

The answer is no, a king snake cannot kill a domestic cat. King snakes are non-venomous and do not produce toxins that are lethal to cats or humans. While their bite may be painful due to their sharp teeth, it is not deadly. King snakes typically eat smaller prey like rodents, lizards, eggs, and other small snakes. They do not view cats as typical prey.

However, there are a few scenarios in which a king snake and cat may injure one another, such as if surprised or threatened. Cats have sharp claws and teeth and may scratch or bite a snake in self-defense. And though not venomous, a king snake bite can potentially cause wounds that could become infected without proper treatment.

It’s best to supervise interactions between pet king snakes and cats. Provide plenty of hiding spots for the snake to retreat to, and keep their enclosures secure. While fatalities are very unlikely, both the snake and cat can experience stress and harm if an aggressive encounter occurs.

King Snake Bite Effects

A king snake bite is generally not venomous and poses little danger to cats (Animalemergencycenter, 2022)[1]. However, their bite can still cause some mild effects in cats such as:

  • Localized pain, swelling and bruising around the bite area
  • Puncture wounds from the snake’s teeth
  • Infection at the bite site if bacteria enters the wound
  • Limping or lameness if the bite is on a limb

While the effects are usually minor, it’s still important to clean and monitor cat snake bites to prevent complications. Seek prompt veterinary care if you notice any signs of worsening pain, swelling, infection, or debilitation following a king snake bite.

With proper first aid and monitoring, most cats recover fully from king snake bites. The mild nature of the venom means long-term issues are very rare (Vetster, 2021)[2]. So while startling, a bite from a common king snake does not lead to severe or lasting problems in the vast majority of cases.

Preventing Conflicts

To avoid issues between pet cats and wild king snakes, there are some tips you can follow:

  • Keep cats indoors or supervised when outside. This prevents encounters with snakes and protects both the cat and snake.
  • Remove potential snake hiding spots from your yard like wood piles, tall grass, and debris. This makes your yard less attractive to snakes.
  • Seal any openings around the foundation of your home that a snake could enter through. This prevents snakes from getting inside.
  • Use snake deterrents like repellents, mothballs, or vibration devices around the perimeter of your yard. These make the area less hospitable for snakes.
  • Clear overgrown vegetation around bird feeders or chicken coops that could attract rodents and snakes. Eliminate their food source.

Taking precautions like providing supervision, modifying the habitat, and using deterrents can help prevent conflicts between pet cats and wild king snakes around your home.

What to Do if Your Cat is Bitten

If you suspect your cat has been bitten by a king snake, remain calm but act swiftly. Prompt treatment is crucial for your cat’s chances of survival and full recovery. Here are the steps you should take:

Carefully examine the bite wound. Look for puncture marks from the snake’s fangs. There may be swelling, redness, bruising or bleeding around the bite site. Your cat may seem painful or distressed.

If possible, safely restrain or confine your cat to limit movement and prevent worsening of the bite. However, do not risk getting bitten yourself.

Immediately contact your veterinarian or an emergency animal hospital. Alert them that your cat may have a snake bite so they can prepare any antivenom therapy needed. Let them know when and where the bite occurred if possible.

Gently clean the bite wound with mild soap and water if you can do so safely. Do not try to cut or suck out the venom.

Keep your cat calm and warm on the journey to the vet. Watch them closely for any worsening symptoms like seizures, paralysis or collapse.

Follow all instructions from the veterinary team regarding treatment, observation and follow-up care. Prompt veterinary treatment with antivenom and supportive therapy gives your cat the best chance of recovering fully.

Monitor your cat closely over the next 24 hours for any return of symptoms. Snake venom can cause delayed reactions so ongoing observation is important.

Contact your vet again if there are any concerns about your cat’s condition after treatment. With proper care, most cats survive king snake bites.

When to Seek Help

If you suspect your cat has been bitten by a venomous snake like a rattlesnake, copperhead, or water moccasin, seek veterinary assistance immediately. Venomous snake bites can be fatal if left untreated. Call your veterinarian right away even if symptoms have not yet appeared.

According to the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Health Topics library, signs your cat may have been envenomated include sudden weakness, collapse, dilated pupils, muscle tremors, swelling around the bite, bleeding from the fang marks, nausea, and elevated heart rate [1]. These symptoms can appear within minutes to hours after the bite.

Do not wait to see if symptoms develop or worsen. The longer venom circulates in the body before treatment, the higher the chance for potentially irreversible organ damage or death. Take your cat to the vet clinic immediately if bitten by a venomous snake.

Caring for Both King Snakes and Cats

Keeping both king snakes and cats in the same household requires some diligence to ensure their peaceful and safe coexistence. However, with proper care and precautions, these animals can thrive together.

First, make sure both pets are healthy and up-to-date on vaccinations and other preventative care. Monitor them closely for any signs of illness or unusual behavior. Provide each animal with its own secure habitat and supervised interactions.

Offer appropriate housing, temperatures, humidity, lighting, enrichment, and diet for the king snake as outlined in king snake care guides ( Keep the snake enclosure secure and inaccessible to cats.

Ensure cats have designated scratching posts, perches, toys, and their own food and water stations. Cats should be spayed/neutered to decrease territorial behaviors. Provide litter boxes and keep their claws trimmed to reduce damage if interactions occur.

Never leave snakes and cats unsupervised together. Use secure lids on snake enclosures and keep cats out of the snake habitat. When handling the snake, isolate it in a room cats cannot access.

With planning and vigilance, king snakes and cats can live in the same home safely. The wellbeing of both animals should be prioritized by providing for their individual needs and preventing conflicts.


In summary, king snakes are non-venomous constrictors that typically only attack and eat smaller prey like mice, rats, and birds. They are not likely to view domestic cats as prey. While it is possible for a large king snake to kill a small kitten or injure an adult cat in self-defense, such occurrences seem to be very rare.

Most evidence indicates king snakes and cats can peacefully co-exist if proper precautions are taken, such as keeping the snake securely enclosed when unattended, monitoring their interactions, and providing hiding spots for the snake to feel secure. With proper care and planning, king snakes need not pose a major threat to cats in the home.

In the unlikely event a cat is bitten by a king snake, gently wash the wound with soap and water, monitor for signs of injury or infection, and contact a vet if symptoms develop. Overall, a mix of common sense, safe handling, and close supervision can allow cat and king snake owners to enjoy their unique pets.

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