If you know for sure that a black widow spider has bitten your cat you have to take her to a veterinarian as an emergency i.e. within the next 30 minutes.
The bites of black widow (and brown recluse) spiders are toxic to animals. The cat will feel a sharp pain at the site of the bite. Thereafter the following symptoms may occur: the cat develops excitability, chills, laboured breathing and fever.
Thereafter seizures and shock may occur followed by early paralysis. The symptoms may be difficult to diagnose because they overlap with other illnesses including certain types of poisonings. The cat’s prognosis may be uncertain and symptoms of weakness, fatigue and insomnia may persist for many months.
The following more detailed symptom list is supplied by healthypets.mercola.com. Thank you.
|Early marked paralysis||Muscle tremors and cramping|
|Rigid and painful abdomen||Severely painful muscles in the back, chest, and abdomen|
|Difficulty breathing and/or respiratory collapse resulting from paralysis of the abdominal muscle||Excessive drooling|
|Restlessness||Increased blood pressure and heart rate|
|Loss of coordination and the ability to stand||Vomiting and diarrhea|
The venom is a potent neurotoxin. It triggers a release of acetylcholine and norepinephrine which causes muscle spasms and paralysis.
Most cats die of a black widow spider bite. However, there is an antivenin which can be used provided your veterinarian has it in stock or can obtain it in time.
As for the brown recluse spider, there are two syndromes apparently. The first is a “cutaneous form“. A local blister develops with pain. This is followed by a bull’s-eye lesion. Over the following week or two weeks the skin in the area of the bite will die and ulcerate. This leaves a wound which may take months to heal.
The second syndrome is a “visceral form“. A fever accompanies it together with possible seizures, vomiting and painful joints. The cat may suffer from kidney failure and blood disorders. This second form is rarer and often fatal.
What to do? As I see it, the most important thing to do is take your cat to your nearest veterinarian as a matter of urgency. My book on home veterinary care indicates that with respect to treating snake and lizard bites you should proceed to get help at a veterinary clinic within 30 minutes. Common sense tells me that the same timeframe applies to black widow spider bites.
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