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Cat Care

Fiesty Felines v. Slithering Snakes: Do cats keep snakes away?

It is a well-known fact that both snakes and cats are avid hunters of mice. What about snakes and cats; which animal is the predator and which animal is the prey?

They both possess different strengths as predators. What order do these two animals fit into the ecosystem of the animal kingdom? 

Yes, cats do hunt snakes and cats may keep snakes away. Snakes do tend to get their attention; the slithering motion of snakes activates their hunting instincts.

A cat’s constant presence in your yard may not deter snakes from slithering in at all, but when they do visit, most felines will kill them or make them want to leave. 

Why do cats hunt snakes?

Most cat owners have seen their cats catch a mouse or other small, fast-moving bug or animal. You may have noticed that most cat toys involve fast movements as well.

The hunting instincts of cats are triggered by fast movements because if they were not, they would have a hard time catching dinner. 

Cats of all sizes hunt snakes as a result of their fast movements. In this video by National Geographic, two leopards play with a python. In this video, a compilation of domestic cats encountered snakes. 

According to Snake Removal, No matter what size a cat is, they tend to react in a similar way. When the snake slithers, their tail whipping and their body contorting, a regular house cat becomes a feline assassin, and a leopard becomes a playful kitten before they finish the job and eat their meal.

They begin by batting at the snake with their “murder mittens”, which is their paws with claws out. When the snake strikes in their direction, they try to bat its head. Then they pounce, grabbing the snake in their mouth and dragging it off to play with it and kill it.

The risks the feline snake assassin will face when hunting a snake

1. Being Eaten

According to LiveScience, Large boa constrictor snakes will eat cats. If you reside in South America your cat has the potential to encounter a boa constrictor snake.

If you reside in Southern Florida or Southeast Asia, your cat has the potential to encounter a boa constrictor snake or a Burmese python snake while being outside.

2. Being Injured and/or Bitten

Snakes for Pets says that snakes are naturally afraid of cats due to the disparagement in their physical sizes, and they have the instinct to be away from them.

Despite this fact, a snake’s natural fear of your feline friend does not guarantee they will have the upper paw in a fight.

Small snakes will not actively attack cats, however, if a snake is cornered, it will bite a cat, resulting in a fatal or serious altercation no matter the size of the snake.

3. Death as a result of being bitten by a venomous snake

According to LiveScience, there are approximately 3,000 types of snakes in the world. Every country in the world, except Antarctica, has at least 1 type of snake. Snakes even live in the lakes, ponds, rivers, creeks, and the ocean too.

Of these 3,000 types of snakes, approximately 600 of them are venomous. Approximately 200 of these snakes are considered deadly, able to cause severe injury or death to humans.

If you find a snake in your yard, never rush to get your cat to attack it for you. Since cats are much smaller than people, a bite from a venomous snake would do much more damage, much more quickly, than the bite would do to a human.

Even if a snake is not venomous, bites from snakes can still cause serious injuries to cats. Further, both snakes and cats have the ability to give their victims serious infections.

What should a cat owner do when their cat is bitten by a snake?

It is best to assume that your cat has been bitten by a venomous snake if you did not see the snake that bit him or her, or if you cannot identify the snake.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals states that a cat may exhibit the following symptoms after being bitten by a snake:

  • Weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Collapsing
  • Twitching muscles
  • Difficulty breathing and blinking
  • Blood in urine
  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of control of their bowel and bladder

The ASPCA says that cat owners should always treat a snake bite as a medical emergency and seek immediate veterinary treatment for your cat.

If possible, photograph the snake or memorize its appearance to identify it for your cat’s veterinarian. Carry your cat, do not have your catwalk, as the activity will pump the venom through their body.

Do not attempt to perform any home remedies, such as sucking the venom from the wound; you will waste valuable time that could be spent transporting your cat to a veterinarian.

Be sure to call your regular veterinarian and ask if they are equipped to handle snake bites, as time will be of the essence, and if they are unable to treat your cat, you may need to seek treatment at an emergency veterinary clinic.

If your veterinarian is closed when your cat is bitten, try calling the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline for assistance.

How to deter snakes while keeping your cat safe

As we discussed earlier, snakes and cats share a taste for rodent fare. Snakes are often attracted to places where they can find a mouse to snack on.

Therefore, making sure that your home is not moused friendly will help discourage snakes from being in your yard.

Terminx has tips for getting rid of mice:

  • Eliminate points of entry into your home.
  • Use mouse traps. The Have a Heart Mouse Trap is a humane way to trap mice.
  • Keep your house clean. Mice are attracted to unsanitary conditions.
  • A resident pest control specialist, like your cat, can help control the mouse population.

Snake Removal Nationwide Service has excellent tips to make your yard and home less attractive to snakes, such as:

  • Keep your yard well-manicured. Snakes are attracted to tall grass and overgrown gardens.
  • Install a snake fence. Fabric construction fences can keep snakes out of your yard. Mesh netting can also be used but has the potential to injure other wildlife.
  • Snakes will lay eggs in mulch and under piles of logs or piles of free stacked stones. Be sure to stack wood at least 1 foot off the ground; wood piled any lower will become a hot property to a snake looking to settle down. Should you decide to build a stone wall in your yard, do not build a free stacked stone wall; build a mortar stone wall instead. Instead of mulch, use crushed rock.
  • Spray the perimeter of your yard with predator urine. Snakes have a strong sense of smell. Spraying liquid or spreading granules with scents of their predators, such as bobcat urine or coyote urine, will make your yard less appealing.
  • Plant peppermint in your garden. Snakes and spiders both dislike this herb.
  • Purchase a snake trap. Always use a humane catch and release trap. Once you catch the snake, call animal control to pick it up. Never purchase a glue trap, as they cause serious injuries and/or slow and painful deaths to many unintended victims.

Summary

Cats do hunt snakes. The presence of a cat may or may not deter snakes, but most likely, their ability to find and fight snakes will either make snakes want to leave or kill trespassing snakes.

Although their strong hunting instincts make cats little snake assassins, it is not in the best interests of a cat to be exposed to snakes, as their risk of injury or death is high.

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