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Cats and rattlesnake bites

Jul 29, 2014
Hoose JA, Carr A. Retrospective analysis of clinical findings and outcome of cats with suspected rattlesnake envenomation in Southern California: 18 cases (2007-2010). Journal of veterinary emergency and critical care 2013;23:314-320.
 
Rattlesnakes are known to exist in southern California, and the western diamondback is predominant. In California, more than 800 people per year are bitten by rattlesnakes; similar data for animals is unknown. While some information regarding snake bites in dogs is known, little is known about cats affected by snake bites. Current treatment recommendations for cats are based on the literature for treatment pertaining to people and dogs. Because of the lack of studies in cats, it is uncertain if these treatment recommendations are appropriate. Even in dogs, where there are some data regarding treatment, treatment protocols are influenced heavily by expert opinion and anecdotal evidence. The purpose of this retrospective analysis is to review treatment regimen and outcome data of cats envenomated by rattlesnakes.

Eighteen cats were treated for suspected rattlesnake envenomation between January 2007 and August 2010 to an emergency referral clinic in southern California. There were 3 fatalities and 15 cats survived (16% mortality rate). Two cases developed pelvic limb paresis 3–4 days post envenomation which was self-limiting. There were no apparent adverse reactions to treatment with antivenom.
Cats were infrequent in presentation for snake bites at this emergency clinic as compared to dogs at the same clinic, of which there were 367 cases. Mortality was higher among cats. Most bites were on the forelimb. Cats can respond to snakebite treatment similar to that used in dogs and humans. [MK]

See also:
Julius TM, Kaelble MK, Leech EB, et al. Retrospective evaluation of neurotoxic rattlesnake envenomation in dogs and cats: 34 cases (2005-2010). Journal of veterinary emergency and critical care 2012;22:460-469
rattlesnake

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