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PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse
Category: Cat
Satisfied Customers: 8287
Experience:  15 yrs experience in vet med, 8 in emergency med. Founder of a non-profit animal rescue
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Our kitty was bit by a rattler in her eye last Monday (1week

Customer Question

Hi our kitty was bit by a rattler in her eye last Monday (1week ago). She got anti venom in the ER and was transferred to our vet the next morning (tue am). On Thursday vet gave her a blood transfusion. She has been on an IV until this am. She is full of liquid but is refusing to eat or drink on her own. Vet released her to see if she will eat at home but she hates food! She fights and turns away. She is laying around a lot (understandably), has trouble walking. Did the venom affect her brain , motor coordination and result in an aversion to food?
Or is she so full of blood and Iv fluids that eating and walking is difficult?
Do we force feed wet syringe food and broth or do we let the vet install the feeding tube in the next few days?
She loves pets, she purrs, but hates food. We are afraid. She is much heavier than when we took her in so I'm sure the filled her with fluids a lot.
Any ideas?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 1 year ago.

Hi Nina. Thanks for your question, I am so sorry to hear that Snowy is not well but what a lucky girl she is! Not many cats get bit my venomous snakes and live to tell the tale. She definitely used up one of her 9 lives!

The way the venom would have affected her body would depend upon what type of rattlesnake bit her. Some have neurotoxic venom and some have hemotoxic venom. Of rattlesnakes, not many of them have both neurotoxic AND hemotoxic venom (theories exist that some crossbreeding has taken place between the Mojave rattlesnake and others to produce a doubly neuro- and hemotoxic venom, though much of this is controversial). The vast majority possess hemotoxic venom and because she received a blood transfusion, I'm going to assume that whatever variety of rattlesnake bit her, they possessed hemotoxic venom.

It's always possible that after envenomation that a pet could have difficulty walking and have some mobility issues. This is probably due to the fact that she's recovering from a very major event.

As far as "being full of fluids", fluids are used to hydrate a pet and replenish what their body needs while they aren't sustaining normal eating and drinking habits. It's also used to flush toxins from the system, which would have been necessary for Snowy so she could successfully recover from the snake bite. In view of fluids alone, we never give more than the body can handle so it's probable that although she, no doubt, received a lot of fluid during her hospitalization it's not the cause for her symptoms alone. The same to be said about the blood transfusion. We give blood but don't "overfill" the body. The venom was destroying her red blood cells therefore they were replaced for her. They provided just enough blood to bring her hematocrit (red blood cell : fluid ratio per volume of blood) up to a safe level so she could take the time needed for her body to begin regenerating the red blood cells on its own that the venom destroyed. Her difficulty in walking is likely due to the fact that she's lethargic after a battle for her life. She may also still be on the anemic side and lethargic. These are common symptoms associated with an animal recovering from an envenomation.

Immediately, it's not going to be nearly as important for her to drink as it will for her to eat. Your vet has presumed that she's too stressed to eat at the clinic and is giving her a chance to do so at home so that hopefully she will feel more confident and go back to her normal habits. Many cats, regardless of their health, refuse to eat at veterinary offices. It's actually pretty common. Overnight, offer her as many foods as you can. Try to select things that you know that she loves. You've tried baby food. If your vet hasn't tried A/D, ask for a can of that. You can also try some nutrical, if you have some on hand. A few small pieces of deli meat are ok, as well, such as chicken or turkey (stay away from the ham) to entice her. You might also try some boiled or scrambled (nothing added) egg to see if she's interested in that. Try a piece of cheese or two. If you have the canned spray cheese, offer her a dime sized amount and see if she's interested (this stuff is gold for medicating most cats.)

If she does not start eating at home by tomorrow, I would go ahead and have your vet place the feeding tube. It's been over a week since she ate normally and eventually she's going to be at high risk for hepatic lipidosis which is going to land her back in the hospital again, which you don't want...and she doesn't want. The feeding tube will allow you guys to keep feeding her regularly until she's doing it on her own. It can be a real pain in the behind, but a life saver. Once she's back to eating normally, the tube can easily be removed and she can go back to doing things as she was before. Here's some more information about hepatic lipidosis in case this condition is one you haven't dealt with in the past:

If you have other questions, please let me know. I hope Snowy is on her way to feeling perfect again very soon.

Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 1 year ago.

Just checking in to see if you have any further questions. I hope all is well.

Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 1 year ago.
Hi Nina,
I'm just following up on our conversation about Snowy. How is everything going?