Ask the Veterinarian/EMERGENCY


Dear Doctor,
An hour ago my cat was bitten on the nose by a coral snake. I know snakes!  I don't think the snake had time or opportunity to chew.  However I did see a tiny puncture on cat's nose.  Also, a small tiny pea shaped swollen area.  I know this was wrong but I gave him a very small dose of liquid benadryl.  It was the closest thing I could think of to an antihistamine.  So far the cat has not exhibited any adverse symptoms.  I do have Sub Q fluids on hand - 0.9 Sodium Chloride.  Please help.  The cat weighs aprox 19 pounds.

Thank you,
Janet - a fellow pet expert

First of all Janet I am NOT a doctor. My profile clearly states that I am a vet tech. Secondly,
if my cat was bit by a venomous snake I would be calling my regular vet right away!

Having said that, if the cat shows no symptoms in an hour then he probably didn't get any venom, but these things can take hours to show up!

I don't live around coral snakes so we never see any but I would call your local vet and ask them what kind of symptoms to watch for other than swelling. The problem with the swelling is if it pushes on the cats nose and it cannot breathe.

Here is a forum on coral snakes and cats! (crude language)

Apparently it takes about 12 hours for the venom to be effective, and being a neurotoxin will cause symptoms such as ataxia, disorientation, vomiting and death.
"Crucial Note: Even if local signs indicate mild signs or symptoms of a snake bite, it is important to note that some envenomizations may worsen in a matter of minutes, hours. Progression of symptoms can act extremely rapidly, necessitating immediate veterinary attention. Never waste time, immediate emergency veterinary treatment is critical for survival." -from

But it takes a bit of foral snake venom to get into the cat to do that.

I would call the vet to err on the side of caution and have them alerted to the fact your cat has been bitten.

By the way, Benadyrl for cats is okay in very small doses.  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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