Is there a rattlesnake vaccine for cats?

Snake bites can potentially kill humans, cats and dogs. It can destroy skin and muscle. Cause permanent kidney, liver and heart damage.

So can you vaccine your cat?

Yes, but it does not mean your pet is completely safe. Keep reading and find out why!

Effects of rattlesnake bites on cats

According to a website called Canines And Cats, “It is estimated that about 150,000 dogs and cats are bitten annually in the United States by venomous snakes.  Dogs are up to 500 times more likely to be bitten by a venomous snake than to get rabies.  A snake bite is severely painful to the dog and can cost the owner thousands of dollars in veterinary bills.  This rattlesnake vaccine is designed to reduce the likelihood of death, permanent injury, and severe pain caused by rattlesnake bites.”

Compared to cats, dogs are more susceptible to rattlesnake bites because they wander around in places where rattlesnakes might hide or take shelter. Cats, on the other hand, are also in danger but have lesser chances of meeting rattlesnakes because the cats prefer high places. However, this does not mean that cats are totally immuned or safe from rattlesnake bites. They are, on the other hand, considered rattlesnake prey.

Most venomous rattlesnakes are mostly found in North  America. They call them Pit Vipers. Below are the species of Pit Vipers that are residing in North America as enumerated by a veterinary services clinic blog called VetStream:

  • Species of rattlesnakes (genus Crotalus)     .
  • Pygmy rattlesnakes (genus Sistrurus).
  • Massasauga (genus Sistrurus).
  • Cottonmouths (genus Agkistrodon).
  • Copperheads (genus Agkistrodon)

You can easily spot the signs that your cat has been bitten by a rattlesnake. Usually, rattlesnake bite symptoms include extensive swelling and bruising at the area that the cat has been bitten, hemorrhage or extensive bleeding on the area. Rattlesnake bites are extremely painful and it destroys the muscles and major organs in the body. This does not only hurt your cat, but treatment can also be very expensive since they will treat the snake bite depending on the kind of rattlesnake that bit your cat. Rattlesnakes have different kinds of venom, thus the symptoms and treatment may differ.

Crotalus Atrox Toxoid (Rattlesnake vaccine)

There are antivenin or antivenom vaccines. Antivenom can neutralize the snake bites but does not entirely make your cat safe from rattlesnake bites. According to Sharon M. Gwaltney-Brant, from University of Illinois,antivenoms available against North American pit vipers include equine-derived polyvalent antivenin, ovine-origin polyvalent F(ab) fragment antivenin, and equine-origin polyvalent F(ab)2 fragment antivenin. The F(ab) antivenins use the F(ab) components of the immunoglobulin molecule, resulting in an antivenin that has lower risk of allergic reaction, faster reconstitution, and potency similar to that of the polyvalent immunoglobulin. Antivenin is most effective if administered in the first 6 hr after the bite, although improvement in clinical condition may be seen after antivenin administered ≥24 hr after the bite.”

Meaning, your vet may inject an antivenom for your cat but it will still depend on the symptoms that your cat is displaying. Antivenoms will counteract the venom from the rattlesnake but your cat will need additional treatment. According to Brant, antivenin will help significantly in managing the pain of the rattlesnake bite.

These factors should be considered to influence the success of the vaccine:

  1. Age of the rattlesnake
  2. Amount of venom injected into your cat
  3. Location of the bite
  4. Immune system of your feline
  5. Time since last booster shot of the vaccine

First Aid for cats bitten by rattlesnakes

If your cat is vomiting, having difficulty breathing and convulsions you might want to check your feline if s/he has two fang marks. If yes, you may follow the first aid tips provided by Sheldon Rubin, a blogger, on how to handle poisonous snake bites:

Step 1: Approach the cat carefully. If your cat is nervous or anxious, restrain the cat if necessary.

Step 2: Clip the hair from the bite area on the cat.

Step 3: Flush the area thoroughly by pouring 3 percent hydrogen peroxide directly on the bite.

Step 4: Transport the cat to the veterinarian immediately.

Rattlesnake bites are not something to take lightly. Even when your cat is vaccinated, always remember that the antivenin will only neutralize the venom and may help alleviate your feline’s suffering. Rattlesnake bites will take days or weeks to treat depending on the severity of the bite. It is better to rush your feline to your nearest veterinary hospital as soon as possible.

Common Questions

How often should a cat get vaccinations?

Methow Valley Veterinary Hospital reported that animals should get two doses about 30 days apart for the body to absorb the vaccine. You may get a booster shot for your feline and canine once a year or depending on the exposure. If you live in an area or country where there are increasing cases of rattlesnake bites, you might want to give your cat booster shots every 6 months.

What are the side effects of rattlesnake vaccines?

Your cat may display flu-like symptoms after the vaccination. Also, your cat may be allergic to the vaccine. However, these side effects are treatable and rarely ever happens.

What is the deadliest rattlesnake and where can it be found?

The deadliest rattlesnake is the Eastern Diamondback. It has the largest fangs among the rattlesnakes species in the world, very high venom yield and is the largest rattlesnake in the world.

Recent Posts