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Cher
Cher, Feline Specialist
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 21379
Experience:  Feline Healthcare & Behavior Specialist 40+ years Experience
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Hi, can a false widow spider bite kill a cat please

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Hi,

Do you suspect your cat has been bitten by a false black widow spider, and how is s/he acting now?

In what area do you live?

Thanks for any additional detail.

Cher
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Hi, To cut a long story short, last weekend, I found my 7 y.o cat had died under the bed, about 1/2 hour previous he was fine - at the same time,i found a false widow spider climbing on a chair in my front room - I am trying to find out IF, my cat was bitten by the spider, could this have caused his death, he was otherwise healthy apart from a scale 1 heart murmur which my vet said there was nothing to worry about -
When i found him, he had a foaming saliva around his mouth and had urinated, his death has devastated me and i am also concerned for my other cat, if it was a bite, that there could be more of these spiders in my flat.. I have tried to research this spider but cant find the info i'm looking for..thank you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
PS: I am in West Sussex - UK, thank you
Hi again, Suze, and thanks very much for your additional information. Thanks for adding your location.

My heartfelt condolences on the sudden loss of your cat. I know how difficult this for you, your family, and for your other cat, as well.

I can fully understand why you had a problem locating information on this type of spider; I just spent a long while researching it, until I found the proper information. The false black widow spider, also called the 'steatoda grossa' (Cobweb spiders (Theridiidae)) does NOT have the dangerous toxin which the genuine black widow possesses. However, it's bite CAN cause some local or systemic effects. While it's possible that this spider did bite your cat, the fact that he had a scale 1 heart murmur and seemed fine, it's also possible that your cat experienced a heart attack, which is not uncommon and often unexpected. Very often, a heart condition may be present, but no symptoms will be obvious. The fact that he had a heart murmur to begin with, indicates that a sudden cardiac event could have caused his demise. The only way to know if a spider bite was the cause of his death, would be for the vet to do a necropsy (autopsy for animals) and also, to find any fang marks from a spider bite/injection of venom. Also, a necropsy will establish a definite cause of death from any other condition, like a heart attack. It might also be possible that your cat ingested a toxin which caused this terrible event.

Here is more information on the false widow spider:

http://entomology.ucr.edu/ebeling/ebel9-1.html#spider%20species%20list

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05512.html

I'd suggest that you hire a professional exterminator who specializes in spiders and make sure your home is clear of any more of these, or other spiders, so you and your other cat are not in danger, IF this spider did bite your cat and caused his death.

Again, I'm so very sorry to hear this sad news about your cat, and perhaps this poem will help to ease your grief, somewhat:

http://www.petloss.com/poems/maingrp/rainbowb.htm

Cher
Cher and 4 other Cat Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Hi, Thank you so much - I had a feeling it was his heart, but I feel better now that it is unlikely that it was a bite from this spider, thanks again ..x
Hi again, and you're most welcome; thanks very much for your accept. I'm glad I could provide the information which helped to ease your mind.

Cher