Will A Snake Hurt A Cat?

Snake encounters can be dangerous for household cats. As natural predators, cats are often curious about snakes and may try to hunt or play with them. This exposes cats to potential bites from venomous snakes, which can be life-threatening without prompt veterinary treatment. Even bites from non-venomous snakes carry risks of infection. Understanding snake behavior and taking preventative measures can help protect cats.

For cat owners, it is crucial to understand the risks snakes pose and how to safeguard feline companions. Awareness and vigilance are key, as snake bites often happen quickly with little warning. This article will examine the hazards of snake bites for cats, defensive tactics used by both species, first aid essentials, and prevention methods to avoid tragic incidents.

Snake Behavior Towards Cats

In general, snakes tend to view cats as potential predators rather than prey. Snakes rely heavily on their senses of smell and vibration to detect threats, and cats may register to a snake as a dangerous predator to avoid (source). When encountering a cat, snakes will likely exhibit defensive behaviors rather than act aggressively.

Snakes tend to be quite wary and fearful of cats due to their hunting abilities. According to discussions on online forums, pet snake owners report their snakes hiding or acting nervously when a cat is nearby (source). Snakes may hiss, rattle their tails, or strike defensively if a cat gets too close, but they generally will not pursue a cat to attack it. Their self-preservation instincts lead them to flee from cats or try to appear threatening so the cat keeps its distance.

Overall, the prevalent snake behavior when encountering a curious cat is fear and evasion. Very few snakes would voluntarily approach a cat or be aggressive towards one. Their defensive reactions aim to scare the cat away so the snake can safely retreat from the potential threat. While conflicts can occur between snakes and cats, the snakes are typically acting protectively rather than viewing the cat as prey they want to hunt.

Venomous Snake Bites

The most venomous snakes that cats may encounter in the wild include rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths, and coral snakes. According to Vetstreet, the Mojave rattlesnake is considered the most dangerous to cats and dogs due to its potent neurotoxins. Even small amounts of venom from these snakes can cause neurological damage, hemorrhaging, muscle paralysis, and respiratory failure.

Copperhead bites, while less toxic than rattlesnakes, can still be very dangerous and cause severe tissue damage around the bite area. Their venom contains hemotoxins that impair blood clotting and destroy red blood cells. According to Blind Cat Rescue, cats bitten by copperheads often need pain medication, antibiotics, and intravenous fluids. Their chances of recovery greatly depend on how rapidly the cat receives veterinary treatment.

Cottonmouth and coral snake bites require swift veterinary care as well. The neurotoxic venom causes salivation, vomiting, lethargy, paralysis and potentially death if untreated. However, the chances of survival are good if the cat receives anti-venom and supportive care promptly after being bitten.

Non-Venomous Snake Bites

While non-venomous snake bites are not as immediately dangerous to cats as venomous ones, they can still cause injury and pose health risks (WagWalking). The main injuries cats can sustain from non-venomous snake bites are puncture wounds from the teeth, as well as bruising, swelling, and infection around the bite area.

Though non-venomous snakes lack toxins, their bites can still be quite painful and shocking for cats. The puncture wounds may bleed and can penetrate deep into the tissue. Cats have sharp teeth and claws for defense, but snakes have the advantage of speed and the element of surprise.

The amount of damage from a non-venomous snake bite depends on the size and species of the snake, as well as the location of the bite on the cat. Smaller snakes may only leave a minor wound, while larger snakes can inflict more significant punctures and tearing. Face and neck bites are especially dangerous. Bites that damage muscles, nerves or blood vessels can have longer-lasting complications if not treated (Blind Cat Rescue).

Though the bites themselves may seem minor, bacterial infections are a top concern from non-venomous snake bites on cats. The snake’s mouth contains high levels of bacteria that can enter the cat’s wound. Immediate cleaning and antibiotic treatment is essential to prevent infections that could rapidly spread.

Cat Defenses Against Snakes

Cats have several natural defenses that help protect them against snakes:

Agility – Cats are incredibly agile and can jump and move quickly to avoid snake strikes. Their quick reflexes and ability to leap several feet vertically give cats an advantage if they encounter venomous snakes.

Claws – Cats have sharp claws that can be used defensively against snakes. Their claws allow them to climb out of reach and can also be used to rake snakes if attacked.

Hunting skills – Cats are accomplished hunters and their stalking skills, quick movements, and ability to deliver rapid blows with their paws make them well-equipped to kill small snakes, especially non-venomous ones.

According to sources like Will Cats Keep Snakes Away? Facts, Dangers & Tips, cats use their natural abilities to be quite effective at dispatching snakes around homes and properties when they encounter them.

Snake Avoidance Tips

There are several steps cat owners can take to help keep their feline friends safe from snakes:

Remove hiding places and food sources. Snakes are attracted to areas with rodents, amphibians, and insects to eat. Clearing brush, leaf litter, wood piles, and tall grass around your home reduces appealing hiding and hunting grounds. Also store pet food securely indoors.

Use deterrents. Spreading sulfur, ammonia, or mothballs around the perimeter of your yard may help deter snakes. Commercial snake repellents are also available.

Supervise outdoor time. When your cat is outside, watch them closely and do not allow them to roam and hunt freely, especially under porches or in wood piles where snakes may hide. Keep cats indoors at dawn and dusk when some snakes are most active.

Inspect carefully. Tap on wood piles or surfaces where snakes may hide before letting your cat near them. Look under porches and decks before allowing access.

Visit the vet. Keep cats up-to-date on vaccines and preventive medicines. Have your vet show you how to check your cat for snake bites and what first aid steps to take if bitten.

Snake-proof fences. Installing fences at least 3 feet high and burying them 6 inches underground can help deter snakes from entering your yard.

With vigilance and preventing access to areas where snakes may hide or nest, cat owners can reduce the risk of their pets encountering these reptiles around their home.

First Aid for Snake Bites

If a cat is bitten by a snake, immediate first aid is crucial. According to the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Health Topics on venomous snake bites in cats, the most important thing is to seek veterinary care as soon as possible, even if the snake bite appears minor. Cats should be transported safely and as quickly as possible to a veterinary clinic or emergency animal hospital.

At home first aid steps include keeping the cat calm and quiet, washing the bite wound with soap and water if possible, and covering or bandaging the wound lightly to prevent infection before transport to the vet. Applying a pressure bandage is not recommended. The vet will thoroughly clean and examine the bite wound and provide appropriate treatment which may include antibiotics, pain medication, anti-venom, IV fluids, and other supportive care. Prompt veterinary attention greatly improves prognosis and survival rate.

According to WikiHow’s article “How to Treat a Cat for Snakebite,” the vet will likely keep the cat hospitalized for 24 hours or more to monitor for adverse reactions and administer any needed treatment. After being discharged, the owner will need to monitor the cat at home and follow all at-home care instructions from the vet, such as checking the bite wound site, providing medications, and watching for any concerning symptoms that require follow-up veterinary care.

Long-Term Outlook

The long-term prognosis for a cat after a snake bite depends on several factors, including the type of snake, the location of the bite, and how quickly treatment was administered. With prompt veterinary care, most cats fully recover from non-venomous snake bites with no lasting effects.

For venomous snake bites, the outlook is more guarded. Even with antivenom treatment, some cats may experience permanent tissue damage or impaired kidney or liver function from the snake’s toxins. In severe cases, venomous bites can lead to prolonged hospitalization, lifelong disabilities, or death.

Some potential long-term issues cats may face after venomous snake bites include:

  • Permanent scarring and loss of function at the bite site
  • Chronic kidney disease from damage to the kidneys
  • Impaired clotting ability leading to bleeding disorders
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis
  • Blindness or impaired vision if bitten near the eyes
  • Increased susceptibility to infections

With supportive care and monitoring by a veterinarian, many cats can go on to live a good quality of life after recovering from a venomous snake bite. But in severe cases, the toxins may cause irreparable damage. Pet owners should take precautions to protect cats from encounters with venomous snakes.


The best way to protect cats from snake bites is to prevent snakes from entering your yard and home in the first place. There are several effective snake deterrents and avoidance measures you can take:

In the yard:

  • Keep the grass mowed short so snakes have fewer places to hide.
  • Clear away piles of debris, wood, and rock where snakes may nest.
  • Install fencing made from hardware cloth that prevents snakes from slithering through.
  • Spread gravel, sand, or wood chips around the perimeter of the yard to deter snakes.
  • Plant vegetation that repels snakes like lavender, mint, eucalyptus, garlic, and onions.

Around the home:

  • Seal any cracks or holes where pipes or wires enter the home.
  • Install door sweeps or draft stoppers at the bottom of doors.
  • Cover vents with mesh wire to block snake entry.
  • Keep basements and crawlspaces clean and dry to discourage snakes.

With vigilance and some simple precautions, you can help keep your feline friends safe from snakes. Be sure to check your yard and home regularly for any areas that need improvement when it comes to blocking snake access.


In summary, interaction between snakes and cats can pose risks but is very often non-threatening if properly managed. While venomous snakes can deliver medically significant bites, cats have a natural wariness of snakes and most incidents can be avoided. Non-venomous snakes typically avoid confrontations and do not view cats as prey. Still, cats are at risk of defensive bites when surprising a snake or interacting too closely with it. Responsible pet owners should be vigilant of snakes around the home, keep cats indoors or supervised outdoors, and teach cats to avoid snakes. With proper awareness and prevention, cats can coexist safely with snakes in shared environments.

Scroll to Top