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Do Cats Eat Snakes? Health Risks & Precautions

cat staring at snake
Image Credit: Pedro Hamilton Oliveira, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Christian Adams

Cats are opportunistic hunters, and they sometimes hunt snakes as a result. Often, cats hunt snakes for sport and leave the body after the game is over. Occasionally, cats will eat snakes, but it doesn’t happen frequently enough that you should rely on your cat to keep snakes at bay around your home.

Even though cats do not eat snakes fairly often, it’s important to know the health risks your cat may face if it finds itself on the wrong end of a snake. For example, venomous snakes can seriously harm cats, though it is uncommon for cats to go after these snakes. Meanwhile, other types of snakes can make your cat sick.

Read on below to learn more.


Do Cats Eat Snakes?

Cats are predators, which means they can and do eat a variety of animals, including snakes. Snakes are not commonly eaten by cats, but cats will chow down on the remnants of a snake if they are very hungry. Feral cats are more likely to eat snakes than pet cats.

Although cats do sometimes eat snakes, it isn’t very common. On the contrary, cats are predators by nature and view hunting as a game. Consequently, many cats will stake out a snake and kill it just for fun. After the snake has been killed, the cat will leave its body and simply go about the rest of its day.

So, cats eat snakes when they are very hungry, but it isn’t common. It’s much more likely for the cat to leave the snake after it has been killed.

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Are Snakes Healthy for Cats To Eat?

Whether or not a snake is healthy for your cat to eat depends on the snake type. Small, non-venomous snakes are harmless for your cat to eat, and they will provide a little bit of protein for your cat at the same time. Species like garter snakes, corn snakes, king snakes, and rat snakes are all examples of snakes that are perfectly healthy for your cat to eat.

In contrast, venomous snakes can pose a serious threat to your cat. For example, rattlesnakes, water moccasins, and copperheads should not be consumed by cats since they are venomous. Even though cats are more resistant to snakes than humans and dogs, they should not consume these species.

Even large, non-venomous snakes can be unhealthy for your cat to eat. Because cats have small stomachs, large snakes can easily upset their stomachs. When this happens, though, your cat will likely just have some tummy troubles while digesting the snake. No real harm is done.

cat and snake biting each other
Image Credit: PPK studio, Shutterstock

Are Snakes Dangerous for Cats?

All snakes pose a risk to your cat, including non-venomous varieties. Larger snakes can fight back, resulting in injury to your cat. Meanwhile, venomous snakes can inject venom into your cat, resulting in a number of serious health risks.

Even so, cats do not find themselves the victim of snakes often. As we learned above, cats mainly hunt snakes for sport. Cats will carefully consider the snake before deciding to make it its prey. Only if the cat believes it can overpower the snake will it hunt the snake for sport. Because of this fact, cats rarely take on large snakes or snakes that can do any serious damage.

Of course, there are always incidents of the snake coming out on top. If the snake is non-venomous, the cat might just have a few scratches or two. Venomous snakes, however, can lead to life-threatening risks due to the venom.

Additionally, consuming any raw meat comes with the risk of salmonella. If your cat ingests a raw snake, they are at risk of salmonella. Even though it is not common, it is still a potential side effect of snake consumption. Plus, cats can get upset tummies from eating snakes if they have sensitive palettes.

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What To Do If Your Cat Ate a Snake

If your cat ate a snake, you don’t need to immediately panic. If you know that the snake was non-venomous, your cat will likely have little to no side effects. Even so, keep an eye out on your cat so you can treat your cat in case any side effects pop up. If you notice signs that your cat has been bitten by or consumed a venomous snake, call your veterinarian immediately.

The veterinarian will provide your cat the care it needs to hopefully increase the chances of your cat’s survival. Because cats are more naturally resistant to snake venom, getting your cat to a veterinarian immediately will increase its chances of survival dramatically.

Even if you are not sure what kind of a snake your cat ingested, it’s still a great idea to call your vet. Consider researching any venomous snakes in your area as well. That way, your cat gets the treatment it needs in case it ingested something dangerous.

Vet looking for swelling in cat paws
Image Credit: Motortion Films, Shutterstock

Signs Your Cat Has Consumed a Venomous Snake

  • Dilated pupils
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shaking/shivering
  • Swelling of face and limbs

Chances Of Survival

Cats are two times more likely to survive a venomous snake bite than dogs. As a result, venomous snake bites are not always fatal for cats, especially if they get anti-venom within a quick time frame. Contacting your vet as soon as possible is key if you want your cat to have as few side effects as possible after being bitten by or ingesting a venomous snake.

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Final Thoughts

Cats can and do eat snakes, especially when they’re hungry. However, it’s much more common for cats to leave the dead snake after they have finished playing with it. Although this sounds gruesome to us, cats are avid hunters who find hunting for sport enjoyable.

If your cat happens to eat or be bitten by a snake, it’s important to try to figure out what kind of a snake it was. If the snake was small and non-venomous, your cat will likely have little to no side effects. Contact your veterinarian immediately if the snake is venomous or you are unsure if it is venomous.

Even though cats are naturally more resistant to snake bites than other species, they will still need appropriate veterinary care if they were on the wrong side of a venomous snake.

Featured Image: Pedro Hamilton Oliveira, Shutterstock

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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