pets and travel

Cat vs Cottonmouth – Susa Has a Rotten Day in Louisiana

Monday afternoon I’m outside with Susa and Sherlock, walking around the trailer and along the treeline behind us. Susa is being great, just following along with me and Sherlock as she likes to do –  when she suddenly decides to lag behind and ignore me when I call her.  I called her a few times, as she stepped closer and closer to the forest and jumped on a log.   The cats are not allowed in the forest for many reasons and usually we can call them out pretty quickly if they decide to ignore the rules (as cats do). All last month in San Antonio both cats had to be on leash and harness every time they went outside and hated it, it was nice to have a place where we didn’t have to worry about traffic or holes in fences for a bit. We’ve been taking them out on supervised play time in the grassy area behind us to sit on the tables out front. They usually behave.. but they are cats.

As soon as she was on the log we started waking towards her quickly to get her turned around before she went any further up the log and into the forest. When we got there she was nearly to the end of the 6 foot log and already turning around – whether because I had arrived to scold her or something else, she jumped over a branch and ran back towards us, then past us to the porch of the trailer.

I thought “Yay! She wants to go back inside by herself!” at the same time as “That was oddly easy” because sometimes you have to toss a pinecone in her direction to get her out. Me and Sherlock walked to the front door to let her in, as Sherlock approached her at the bottom stair, Susa meowed as if she was annoyed at Sherlock and I knew something was off. She’s never been annoyed by her before. I go to hold her collar while I open the door, because that’s usually when she changes her mind and decides she wants to stay outside, and she kind of howled  in pain and was in a rush to get inside.

Once inside she really started to howl. Me and Ross were both chasing her around the trailer trying to find out what was wrong. She had started to limp on her back left foot and wouldn’t let us anywhere near her. I thought that maybe she’d been stung by a wasp since there were always several in the leaves where we were. She might have a sticker or stinger in her leg? Whatever it was I wanted to try and help. When we finally got her held down in the shower, only the start of her day long torture, we noticed a little spot of blood on the side of her foot. We still didn’t know what it was but we knew she was in A LOT of pain, and if it was a snake bite we couldn’t take a chance. We immediately called the nearest vet, put her in a kennel and rushed there.  If we were taking our cat to the vet for a bee sting, so be it.

When we arrived, they took her from us and into a back room where we could hear poor Susa screaming as she was held down and her leg was shaved. They brought her back in to show us two puncture marks on one side of her leg. Definitely fangs (and not of the mammal variety) – and when considering snakes, only venomous snakes have fangs.  🙁



The vet told us what our options were, basically, that they would give her a huge dose of steroids, antibiotics and pain killers, put her on fluids and wait it out. We asked about anti-venom but they and most vets don’t carry it due to its cost and the “old school” method being pretty effective with Cottonmouth bites (the most likely culprit).  She mentioned that we could transfer her to the 24 hour emergency vet in Lafayette if we wanted her to be supervised through the night, which of course we did. We would have to wait til after 5pm when they opened, so we went home for a very stressful couple of hours til we could pick her up and make the transfer.

When we picked her up she had already had about the worst 3 hours of her entire life. She’d been bitten by a painful snake, held down twice by a group of strangers to be shaved and stuck with needles and had to ride in the car twice, on what is possibly the worst roads in the country.



We rushed her over to the ER and spent a little time talking to the vet. We left feeling like she would get good treatment and headed home for a long night. At least by then she seemed to be past the worst of it and wasn’t getting any worse except her back leg was now about double the normal size. Hopefully acting fast played a part in all that.

Now she’s home and drugged up pretty much all the time. As soon as we got in the door and let her out of the kennel she started purring and hasn’t stopped much in the last day and half since she’s been home.  She doesn’t seem to be in any pain anymore, unless you try and touch her back foot, and her front leg, where they put her IV, now looks like a zombie leg.

Overall she’s going to be ok and that’s what matters – even after all that trauma, she’s still the same cat.. and already asking to go outside :-/

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  • Technomadia

    Oh so scary… and glad she’s on the mend!

    Our Kiki got bit by a rattlesnake in Colorado a few years back.. I remember that scare so vividly. In 24 hrs she was back to mostly normal, and now we’re all extra vigilant.

  • katyalaroche

    That sounds terrifying! Rattlesnake bites are much worse than Cottonmouth :-O. Did she get antivenom? Susa is doing pretty well, she was mad when we ran out of pain killers and the leg is still pretty red and sore a week later, but not infected at least.
    I can’t believe how tough these little guys are.

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