Although snake bites are not very common in Brazil, they can be quite serious, especially in small animals. Cats usually receive a relatively larger dose of the toxin in the snake's venom because of their small size. The response of the animal's body to the bite will depend on several factors, such as the amount of venom, the location of the bite and the species of snake. If the cat is bitten by a venomous snake, the chances of it surviving depend on your agility in taking it to a veterinarian.
Part 1 of 3: Assessing the Situation
Step 1. Examine the bite site
Most snake bites occur on the snout or paws. If the animal has been bitten by a venomous snake, its skin will have one or more bite marks. Unfortunately, the perforations can be hidden under the pussy's hair or it can be difficult to see the place because of the animal's agitation caused by the pain.
- A venomous snake bite will also cause the skin to swell and turn red. Since the venom can impair the cat's ability to clot the blood, it is possible that there may be bleeding at the site.
- The closer the sting is to the heart, the faster the venom will be absorbed by the body and will spread through the lymphatic and circulatory systems.
- If the cat has been bitten by a non-venomous snake, you will find bite marks but not fang marks. Also, there should be swelling, redness, or minimal bleeding at the site.
Step 2. Observe the cat's clinical signs
After a venomous bite, the animal will become lethargic and will likely start vomiting. In many cases, cats tend to get weak and fall to the ground, muscles trembling and pupils dilated. The more time that passes after the bite, the greater the chances of more serious problems, such as paralysis, seizures, and shock.
- Signs of shock include rapid, labored breathing, hypothermia, and rapid heart rate.
- Because of the pain, the cat may start to meow more.
- Don't wait too long if the cat shows snakebite symptoms. If you find a bite mark on the cat, take it to the vet immediately.
- The onset of symptoms is usually quick and occurs within an hour at most. If the cat shows signs after 60 minutes, it is likely that the snake's venom has not entered its system.
- The cat may not show such signs if it has been bitten by a non-venomous snake. Even so, you need to take him to the vet for observation.
Step 3. Try to identify the snake that bit the cat
In order for the veterinarian to administer the proper antivenom serum, it is important that he knows which species has attacked your cat. The main species of venomous snakes in Brazil are jararacas, cotiaras, urutus and coral snakes.
- If you witnessed the attack, remain calm and note the color, length and pattern of the snake's skin. To be on the safe side, don't go near her.
- Don't try to kill the snake. You'll put yourself at even more risk of getting stung by approaching her to try to kill her.
- Venomous snakes have slit-shaped pupils (similar to those of cats), while non-venomous snakes have rounded pupils (like humans). There are exceptions, however, such as the coral snake, which has round pupils.
- If you cannot identify the snake or do not know whether or not it is venomous, assume it is.
- The negative effects on the cardiovascular system can make the cat go into shock.
Part 2 of 3: Taking the Cat to the Vet
Step 1. Keep the animal calm
The best first aid you can give your cat is to keep it calm and quiet before medical attention. The more agitated the pussy is, the faster the poison will spread through its body, making it even sicker. In fact, leaving your pet calm and quiet is the only care you should do on your own.
- Do not let the cat run or walk, as doing so will increase heart rate and stimulate blood circulation.
- Remember that the cat may try to attack you because of the pain it is feeling.
Step 2. Do not give any first aid other than pressure at the bite site
Gentle pressure will help control bleeding from the sting, but remember not to open the sting and suck in the poison. In addition to not doing anything, you will cause the cat more pain and the poison can affect you.
- Do not tourniquet or apply a compression bandage near the bite.
- Do not apply ice to the bite. It will not help reduce the spread of the venom and can hurt the cat's fur.
- If the bite was from a venomous snake, do not wash the area, or you may increase the absorption of the venom.
Step 3. Take the cat to the vet immediately
To increase the chances of saving your pet companion's life, take him to the vet as soon as possible. Preferably take him in a box or basket in which he can lie down comfortably. To keep him immobilized and calm during the journey, wrap him (without squeezing) in a large towel.
Poison effects are usually irreversible and begin immediately after the sting. To increase your pet's chances of survival and treat the effects of the poison, you need to take it to the vet right away
Step 4. Explain as much about what happened to the doctor
The veterinarian will likely have a venom detection kit in the office to identify the type of snake that bit you. If he doesn't have a kit around, it's important that you provide as much information as possible about the snake, the time since the bite and the signs displayed by the cat.
Step 5. Allow the vet to diagnose the cat
As much as the clinical signs and appearance of the bite seem sufficient to start treatment, the veterinarian may want to perform diagnostic tests to assess the seriousness of the situation. For example, he may have a blood test to see how well the blood is clotting or a urine test to check for blood in it.
Depending on the equipment in the veterinary clinic, the professional may want to perform an electrocardiogram to assess the animal's heart rate
Step 6. Approve the treatment recommended by the veterinarian
Because of the speed at which the poison spreads through the cat's body, the veterinarian will likely want to start treatment immediately to stabilize the cat's condition. Don't be surprised if he wants to start treatment before getting more information from you. Injecting intravenous fluids to raise the cat's blood pressure should be one of the first steps to take and is very important, especially if the cat has gone into shock.
- The serums work by neutralizing the snake's venom and are most effective when administered within the first six hours after the bite. Administration can help prevent bleeding problems and also reduce swelling at the sting site. Know that this is not a vaccine and that the serum will not protect the cat from future bites.
- The veterinarian will likely also administer a steroid to minimize tissue damage, control shock, and prevent possible allergic reactions to the serum. Steroids are usually only given for the first 24 hours after the bite.
- The cat may also need supplemental oxygen and respiratory support, depending on the cat's level of breathing problems.
- If the cat is suffering from serious circulation problems (low clotting and low blood cell count), it will need to be treated with blood replacement and other appropriate treatments.
- Antibiotic treatment is usually not necessary as snake bites do not usually become infected.
Step 7. Talk to the veterinarian about the cat's prognosis
The doctor's answer will depend on the amount of venom injected into the animal, the species of snake and the time since the bite. Luckily, about 80% of animals survive the bites, provided they are treated immediately. If the cat has a positive prognosis, it should recover in a day or two. The recovery process may take a few more days if there is extensive tissue damage.
The veterinarian may recommend that the pet stay in the observation hospital overnight, especially if it needs ongoing intensive care. Once the veterinarian is confident that the cat has recovered well, he will discharge it
Step 8. Take care of the cat at home
When he is discharged from the vet, you will be responsible for the rest of the treatment. The veterinarian should prescribe a medication to control the pain of the sting and, depending on clinical signs and test results, some extra medications.
Part 3 of 3: Preventing snake bites
Step 1. Learn how snake venom affects cats
Snakes normally use poisons to capture prey, but they prefer to flee than fight a human or a pet. If the cat was bitten by a snake, chances are it attacked her and she just defended herself.
- Snakes have control over whether or not to inject venom into the bite. If the snake bites the cat, but does not inject poison - having killed some animal recently and probably used all the poison - it is a "dry bite".
- Snakes also control the amount of venom injected into bites. For example, a small snake that fears for its life may inject more venom than a larger snake whose life is not in danger.
- The venom quickly spreads through the lymphatic and circulatory systems and can profoundly affect the animal's entire organism. The venom usually targets the circulatory and nervous systems.
Step 2. Get rid of potential snake hideouts
Snakes like to hide under tall grass and under piles of wood and rocks. If the cat is outside, clear the yard of spots that could harbor snakes to reduce the chances of an attack.
Another good solution is to keep the cat indoors
Step 3. Buy a purchase repellent and spray it in the yard
Talk to a professional at a pet store to recommend a specific product for snakes in the region. If you prefer, make the purchase on the internet.
Step 4. Get rid of snake food
Rodents are easy and delicious prey for snakes, which can be attracted to your home if there is a pest problem at home. Spread mousetraps around the house or hire a pest control service.
- Prepare for the possibility that the cat may not survive the bite. The vet will do everything he can to save the animal, but some bites can be too serious.
- While washing the poisonous bite is not recommended, you can clean the place bitten by a non-venomous snake with cold water and antibacterial soap. Still, take the cat to the vet.
- Don't go near a dead snake. Snakes usually have a reflex action and can bite for up to an hour after death.
- Due to the proximity of the heart, stings in the abdomen and chest tend to have a worse prognosis than those in the head or extremities.