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Several years ago one of my prize Snow Lynx Bengal cats was bitten in the face by a deadly copperhead snake!


February 22, 2023

Denise Lovette, NetPlaces Network Accounts Mgr.


When I got home from work and went into the cattery at dinner time Matayo was acting like he was really sick and his cheek was terribly swollen, I rushed him to the animal hospital.



The veterinarian shaved the area that was swollen which revealed two punctures resembling a snake bite, he then lanced/cut his cheek open to allow the poison to drain and reduce the swelling. He put a cone on the poor cat’s head to prevent him from scratching his cheek and doing further damage. Matayo wasn’t given any anti-venom because we didn’t know exactly what bit him but because of how he was acting and the swelling, the vet's thought it was a copperhead…


The vet gave me antibiotics and told me to keep the wound clean with warm soap and water and gave assurances that he would be okay, he stated “dogs and cats didn’t usually die from snake bites because most of the time the bite doesn’t get through the haircoat to their skin.”


Getting bit near the face where the fur is thinner could have been fatal but luckily in his case it just made him sick and swollen. Perhaps the snake was too busy trying to slither away and thankfully didn’t get a good strike in.



We also speculated that his better reaction could have also been because of his wild genetics. He is a Bengal cat, a breed developed in the mid-sixties by Jean Mills, a California cat breeder. For those genetic buffs, the domestic Bengal cat was basically a cross between domestic short-haired cats and imported Asian Leopards.


I have often wondered if having those wild genes makes the breed stronger or weaker especially now that the breed is so far away from the original Asian Leopard. I have seen so many dog breeds disfigured by our genetic interference and I know those breeds aren't stronger than mother natures original design.


When my friend’s house was under construction the builders killed a huge copperhead, over 3 feet long, and warned her to be very careful in the future. While bigger animals may fare well from a bite, her little dog wouldn’t be that lucky. The smaller the animal the more susceptible they are to death from a copperhead bite.



My in/out cattery doesn’t protect my cats from snakes (I have seen several brown snakes left dead in the runs) so I decided the cattery that was more in the trees needed to be re-built in a raised area in the wide-open back yard. Now the occasional bird or lizard find their demise but the snakes haven’t been an issue.


So, to answer the question, “can snake bites kill our pets?” the answer is yes, so be aware of immediate symptoms such as excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth (make sure it wasn’t a toad). Some symptoms might not develop right away; swelling, redness, and inflammation at the bite site as well as bleeding.


If your dog should encounter a copperhead, rattlesnake or water moccasin the venom could kill him within an hour unless you get him to the Veterinarian. Hopefully your vet is close and has anti-venom on hand, give them a call to verify, then you know who to go to if it ever happens. EST 2002 © Feb 2023



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