My Cat Killed A Snake

Introducing the Incident

I live with my beloved 3-year-old cat, Mittens, in a suburban neighborhood adjacent to some undeveloped forested areas. Mittens is a playful and energetic Maine Coon cat who enjoys lounging in the sun and birdwatching from the windows. However, with wildlife like snakes encroaching near our home, I worry about potential encounters between Mittens and these wild creatures when she heads outdoors.

The Fateful Encounter

I discovered my cat with the snake one sunny morning last week in my backyard in Los Angeles, California. According to the California Herps website (, the snake appeared to be a common gopher snake, approximately 3 feet long with a brown and yellow pattern on its back.

I was drinking my morning coffee by the back door when I heard rustling noises coming from the garden. As I went to investigate, I saw my cat Magnus crouched low, intently focused on something moving beneath the rose bushes. Suddenly, Magnus pounced and emerged with a long snake grasped in his jaws and proceeded to shake it aggressively. The snake was clearly already dead as Magnus paraded his hunting prize across the yard.

Based on the size and distinctive markings, the snake seemed to match the description and photos of gopher snakes I found on the California Herps website. This nonvenomous colubrid species is common in the Los Angeles area and found frequently around gardens and backyards.

Your Cat’s Reaction

When I came across my cat with the snake, its reaction seemed to be a mix of pride and confusion. According to Purina, cats often exhibit “gift-giving” behavior after catching prey, where they will bring the dead or injured animal to their owner. This is likely an instinctual behavior originating from when they would bring food back to their kittens. So when I discovered my cat with its fresh kill, it initially seemed proud of its accomplishment.

However, once I removed the snake, my cat seemed perplexed. It kept sniffing around the area looking for where its prey had gone. This reaction indicates that the hunting and killing of the snake was driven by pure instinct, not for any actual desire to eat it. According to International Cat Care, pet cats often capture prey without consuming it, which is likely what happened in this case. My cat’s reaction went from pride to confusion once its kill had been taken away.

Removing the Snake

After my cat killed the snake, the first step was to safely remove it so it didn’t pose any further risk. I put on a pair of thick gloves for protection and used a shovel to scoop up the dead snake. According to this source, it’s important not to throw dead snakes in the trash or leave them on the road, so I contacted my local waste management agency to ask about proper disposal methods.

The waste management agency said that in my area, dead snakes can be double-bagged and put in the garbage for collection. Following their recommendation, I carefully placed the snake in two heavy duty plastic bags and sealed them tightly before putting it in my outdoor trash can. Properly containing and disposing of the snake helps ensure no diseases can spread and the snake doesn’t attract other scavengers to my home.

While removing the snake, I kept a close eye on my cat to make sure she didn’t try to attack or eat it. I also washed my hands and the shovel thoroughly after handling the dead snake as an extra precaution against any bacteria or parasites.

Overall, I felt it was important to remove and dispose of the snake carcass safely. Consulting local authorities ensured I followed proper protocols without putting myself, my cat, or others at risk. Now that the snake has been properly contained and removed, I can rest assured there won’t be any lingering issues.

Assessing Your Cat’s Health

After a close encounter with a snake, it is crucial to thoroughly check your cat for any injuries. Carefully examine their body from head to tail, looking for any signs of a bite or scratch. Snakes have sharp teeth that can easily puncture skin, so check for small wounds that may resemble a puncture. Pay close attention to the limbs and face since these are common bite locations.

Also watch for swelling, which can indicate envenomation if the snake successfully injected venom. Swelling often starts at the bite location and spreads. Look for puffy areas around wounds or on the legs, head, or neck. The swelling may be subtle at first but can rapidly progress. According to UC Davis Health, swelling is usually visible within 10 minutes if venom was injected (UC Davis Health).

In addition to visible injuries, monitor your cat closely for signs of pain, discomfort, or distress. They may vocalize, limp, have labored breathing, or act lethargic. Immediate veterinary assessment is recommended if any bite, scratch, swelling, or abnormal behavior is noticed.

Quickly examining your cat and identifying potential snake bites allows timely first aid and treatment. Look over their entire body, watching for scratches, wounds, swelling, and behavioral changes after encounters with snakes.

Snake Bite First Aid

If your cat is bitten by a venomous snake, it’s crucial to provide first aid as soon as possible before seeking veterinary care. According to the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Health Topics page, you should keep your cat calm and quiet, wash the bite wound with soap and water if possible, and apply a cold compress to reduce swelling Do not apply a tourniquet or try to suck out the venom. Transport your cat to the vet immediately. The sooner antivenom can be administered, the better the chance of survival.

According to Daily Paws, if the snake is not venomous, gently clean the wound with soap and water to prevent infection. Apply antibiotic ointment and monitor for signs of infection like swelling, redness, and pus. Take your cat to the vet if symptoms persist or worsen. With proper first aid and quick veterinary care, your cat has a good chance of recovering fully from a snake bite

Preventing Future Encounters

After your cat tangled with a snake, you likely want to avoid another dangerous encounter in the future. There are several ways you can discourage snakes from tempting your feline hunter in your yard.

First, eliminate any food sources that may attract rodents, which snakes prey on. Clean up fallen fruits and nuts, secure trash cans with tight lids, and avoid feeding birds and other wildlife. You can also get rid of any standing water sources like birdbaths, kiddie pools, and puddles which provide drinking water for snakes.

Next, remove potential hiding spots and shelters for snakes around your property. Trim groundcover vegetation, leaves, brush piles, and lumber that provide cover. Also check for holes along foundations, in retaining walls, and under porches where snakes may reside. Consider sealing off these access points.

Installing a snake-proof fence around your yard can be an effective barrier as well. Use galvanized hardware cloth or special mesh fencing dug at least 6 inches into the ground with an outward-curled lip along the top edge [1]. This prevents snakes from being able to slither up and over.

There are also commercial snake repellents you can apply around the perimeter of your yard, using products like sulfur, cinnamon oil, and clove oil to deter snakes. Always check that any products are safe for pets before use.

While you likely can’t keep all snakes out of your yard, taking these snake-proofing steps can help minimize tempting opportunities for your cat and reduce the chances of another close call.

Is Your Cat a Good Hunter?

Cats are natural-born hunters with strong predatory instincts. This is evident in the way they play with toys and their keen interest in small movements and noises. According to How are some cats able to kill snakes?, cats are equipped with sharp claws and teeth, making them capable of defending themselves against snakes. Their quick reflexes and agility give them an advantage when facing off against snakes.

The fact that my cat successfully hunted and killed the snake shows that she is an adept mouser and hunter. Her instincts kicked in when she encountered the snake, spurring her to attack. Catching and killing a snake is no easy feat, even for an experienced cat. Snakes can be elusive and may try to strike back in self-defense. My cat likely relied on stealth and the element of surprise to swiftly take down her prey.

Based on this incident, it’s clear my cat has strong predatory drive and skills. Her ability to effectively hunt snakes means she could potentially help control pests like mice around my home. However, I’ll need to take precautions to avoid future risky encounters between my cat and snakes or other dangerous prey.

Benefits of Feline Pest Control

One of the major benefits of allowing cats to roam outdoors is their exceptional ability to hunt and deter unwanted pests like snakes, rats, and mice from your property. Cats are stealthy hunters and their sharp eyesight, swift movements, and lightning-fast reflexes make them highly skilled at stalking and capturing prey (source). Their natural hunting instincts kick in when they spot moving prey, triggering them to immediately chase, pounce, and deliver killing bites. According to research, cats can capture numerous rodents in a day if the environment supports abundant populations (source).

Allowing your cats to patrol outdoors taps into these natural talents. Rodents like mice and rats can cause extensive property damage by chewing through walls, wires, and insulation. They also spread diseases and contaminate food sources. Having cats on patrol deters these pests and limits their presence around your home. Cats may not catch every single intruder, but their mere presence sends a warning. Likewise for snakes – encountering a territorial cat serves as a strong deterrent against slithering onto your property.

In addition to tangible pest prevention, your feline hunters gain enrichment from outdoor time and stalking prey. Satisfying their natural instincts provides cats with mental stimulation and physical activity for a happier, healthier life.

Risks of Letting Cats Hunt

While some cat owners enjoy seeing their feline hunters bring home “prizes,” allowing cats to hunt freely outdoors does come with potential downsides. According to a study published in Biological Conservation, cats prey on a wide variety of species, including birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles (Crowley et al., 2019). This can negatively impact local wildlife populations.

In addition to environmental impact, outdoor hunting puts cats at risk. When cats interact with wild animals they are more likely to contract diseases or parasites, such as toxoplasmosis, fleas, ticks and more. Open wounds from prey animals can also lead to infections in cats. Another concern is the risk of larger wildlife like coyotes attacking cats, especially at night (Texas A&M, 2023).

Overall, while cats may seem like capable hunters, letting them roam outdoors to prey on local wildlife can have detrimental effects. It’s best to keep cats indoors, or allow supervised time outdoors in an enclosed space.

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