17 Facts On Are Cats Afraid Of Snakes? Why, How, When


Snake is one such creature that can give anyone a shiver down their spine, provided they are not snake lovers. So, it often piques our mind to know if our furbabies also have a similar aversion to these reptiles.

Cats have a keen sense of curiosity and are natural hunters. For them, pursuing prospective prey such as rodents and small snakes is entirely normal. On the other hand, cats and snakes are predatory animals consuming nearly identical prey. Therefore, it is still likely that both of these species occasionally interacted.

Here is a table to compare two species of cats- Bengal and domestic- in terms of being scared of snakes.

Fear of Snakes/ CharacteristicsBengal CatsDomestic Cats
Hunting DriveVery highVariable (depending on the species)
Hunt SnakesYesYes, but the drive would depend on the breed
Scared of Snakes May get surprised Variable 
Kill SnakesMost possibly (depending on the snake’s size)Most possibly (depending on the snake’s size)
Play with SnakesYesYes
Attract Snakes NoNo
17 Facts On Are Cats Afraid Of Snakes?
Image Credit: Oliver in Paper Bag with Snake by
Mr.TinMD (CC BY-ND 2.0) from Flickr

Since the answer is both yes and no, it is impossible to say with certainty whether cats are naturally frightened of snakes. Several things interact with one another to explain the circumstances in which a cat will be truly terrified of snakes.

Therefore, the focus of this post has been on examining various data on whether cats are terrified of snakes. We shall ascertain the truth by responding to some of the most often asked questions in this situation.

Are cats instinctively afraid of snakes?

One of cat lovers’ most frequently asked questions is whether cats instinctively fear snakes? Although not all, many snakes can bite others to death. So, it is worth finding out the truth.

Cats are innately hard-wired to avoid snakes, according to researchers. Cats naturally avoid these reptiles even if they are not afraid every time. However, not all cats will exhibit an innate aversion to snakes. And if they are starving and the snake is small, they might even prefer to attack it rather than flee.

It would be incorrect to assume that every cat has a similar fear of snakes. However, studies have shown that cats can become anxious due to their innate dread of snakes. And for this precise reason, we frequently observe several cats who are utterly terrified at the sight of a cucumber. Cucumbers trigger the cat’s natural dread of snakes since they resemble snakes closely.

Why are cats scared of snakes?

The next question is why, if studies have proved that snakes have some innate fear towards snakes. What makes a cat afraid of snakes?

Some studies have shown that cats have an inherent predisposition to avoid snakes. They might also be afraid of snakes for other reasons, though. Some of the most notable ones are listed here.

  • If the cat has been bitten by a snake before.
  • If the stealth movements of snakes surprise the cat.
  • If the snake’s size is much bigger than the cat’s.

In this regard, it is important to remember that although some experts claim a bad association between cats and snakes, it has never been confirmed. There are currently conflicting opinions regarding whether cats are actually and consistently afraid of snakes (or should be).

Hence, generalization is a strict NO. 

When are cats afraid of snakes?

Cats may or may not be afraid of snakes, depending on the situation. However, knowing the probable triggers for cat snake phobia is important.

A cat’s response to a snake mostly depends on its prior encounters. Your cat may likely become fearful of snakes if it has previously had a negative experience with them. However, even cats that have never encountered a snake before may occasionally exhibit dread of the reptile. Cats’ inherent aversion to snakes is natural.

Therefore, it is wise to keep cats and snakes apart whenever possible. We cannot definitively say if a cat will run away when it sees a snake. But if it does, you risk causing it psychological harm.

Are cats afraid of fake snakes?

The internet is flooded with funny videos of cats freaking out at the sight of fake snakes? So, is it usual for cats to get scared of fake snakes?

To this question, there is no conclusive response. Because cats naturally shun snakes, as several studies have demonstrated, it is only normal for them to become alarmed by anything that resembles a serpent. However, this may not be the case every time.

In some circumstances, a cat might also charge the phony snake out of instinct due to its predatory nature. For instance, Bengal cats, which have a high hunting drive, could attack the fictitious snake as opposed to being terrified of it.

There might not be a typical or universal response in this situation.

Are cats afraid of rubber snakes?

Rubber snakes most closely resemble actual snakes. But does this really mean that cats are frightened of rubber snakes?

A cat may or may not be extremely afraid of rubber snakes depending on the situation. The cat’s potential responses would be influenced by its intrinsic instinct, the environment, any prior encounters with snakes, and other relevant circumstances.

In order to deter cats, rubber snakes are frequently maintained in gardens. So, we can conclude that cats do, in most situations, exhibit a freak-out response when they suddenly see rubber snakes.

Are house cats afraid of snakes?

Image Credit: Cat vs. Snake by
Will Keightley (CC BY-SA 2.0) from Flickr

Between indoor cats and feral/wild cats, there are significant differences. The protected life of indoor cats frequently prevents them from experiencing things that outside cats do.

Some house cat breeds, if not all, might exhibit a phobia of snakes. Indoor cats live fairly safe lives and do not purposefully get exposed to any outside hazards. As a result, they wouldn’t know how to respond to or deal with a real snake if they ever encountered one, which may terrify them.

However, if the snake is particularly small and the cat has a strong hunting instinct, it might start by being surprised before attacking. After all, cats are highly curious by birth and possess critical hunting skills, which may act as reflexes to attack and hunt down snakes. 

What do cats do to snakes?

It might be quite intriguing to investigate what most cats prefer to do when they catch a snake. So, let’s explore the facts.

Both snakes and cats are predators with specific hunting abilities. So they will fight hard when they run into each other. The cat prefers to play with its victim before killing it. So, it would chase and circle while also striking the snake before making the last pounce and killing it.

Of course, not all cats are created equal. Some people might simply steer clear of and move away from the snake. On the other side, some might become severely frightened and leave the area.

Do cats attract snakes?

Most homes are not comfortable with snakes. But some things can draw them in. So, are cats one of the things that draw snakes in?

Snakes aren’t particularly drawn to cats. Typically, smaller food like rodents, birds, lizards, frogs, etc., are what draw these crawling reptiles in. Therefore, you can have a snake problem if these creatures live on your property.

On the other hand, your cats may bring home snakes that they have killed or are only partially dead. Cats frequently bring gifts to their humans. And one of these gifts can be a snake. We are not, however, generalizing this finding.

Why do cats keep snakes away?

Cats can fend off snakes thanks to their hunting prowess and quick reflexes. However, some cat species are just too mellow to worry snakes.

A few characteristics of cats allow them to repel snakes, which every cat owner should be aware of.

Food Competition

Since cats are skilled hunters and consume nearly the same prey as snakes, they can deter serpents from consuming the meal of the latter. In other words, snakes and cats compete for food because they have similar appetites. Therefore, if your cat actively manages pests or rodents, they can substantially deter snakes from entering your home. The snakes would relocate if there were no chance of finding food.

Pee Smell

Cats that haven’t been spayed are more prone to mark their territory with pee spray. Additionally, research suggests that the smell of cat pee can make snakes leave the area. However, there isn’t enough evidence to support the claim mentioned earlier. Yet, cat urine’s potent ammonia scent can deter snakes from visiting a cat-populated area.

Hunting

The hunting propensity of cats, which would aid in keeping snakes at a distance, is last but certainly not least. They may sometimes track the presence of snakes that they can fight off and eat thanks to their extraordinary hunting skills, keen sense of smell, and a particular organ called the Jacobson’s organ.

In this instance, it’s important to remember that not all cats will kill or consume snakes. Additionally, some cats might ignore the snake altogether or run away. Therefore, it would be incorrect to assume that cats are an effective snake repellant every time. 

Do cats play with snakes?

Image Credit: A cat with a Grass Snake by Sigurdas (CC BY-SA 3.0) from Wikimedia

Cat owners have often encountered their cats playing with the prey before ultimately killing and (sometimes) eating it. So, would a cat play with a snake as well?

Snake-playing by cats is not simply another animal play session. Cats, on the other hand, favor playing with their prey, including snakes, until they relax their defenses. The cat would next pull off its greatest pounce and deliver the kill to the target.

If your cat believes it can attack and defeat a snake, it will undoubtedly pursue the snake and play with it until it becomes exhausted and stops attacking. Finally, it will kill the snake and begin to consume some of its leftovers.

Are snakes afraid of cats?

Cats and snakes are both predators. Additionally, cats have an innate hunting drive that makes them attack and hunt down smaller prey. So, are snakes afraid of cats?

Both yes and no can be given as an answer to the query mentioned above. Yes, because cats act as the snakes’ natural predators in some areas, such as for the Caribbean’s boa snakes. On the other hand, larger snake species are more inclined to hunt down cats.

Your domestic cat might occasionally be found chasing snakes around the home, killing them, and possibly even consuming them. It does not reveal whether cats, in particular, terrify snakes.

Note: Domesticating cats only to frighten snakes and keep them away from your property is not a smart idea.

Can a cat kill a snake?

Cats are natural hunters, and any suspicious movements would draw their attention to the object moving. And snakes’ stealth movement often attracts cats’ attention towards them.

If the snake is small and the cat is very active, it can kill the reptile in question. It is very natural for felines to attack and hunt down smaller prey. But this may not be the case always. Sometimes, snakes can be venomous for your kitty, and it may cause your kitty some serious injuries that may also become fatal at times.

A cat’s ability to kill a snake will depend on several variables, including the snake’s size and the cat’s natural hunting instincts. Additionally, the cat will employ several hunting techniques if it decides to kill the snake it has spotted. Whatever strategy the cat chooses, it will always kill the snake with its deadly claws and jaws.

A cat might not kill a snake immediately, though, if it comes into contact with one for the first time. For the cat, capturing and killing snakes might be difficult, and it might be especially troublesome for them to avoid getting bitten in return.

Will a cat eat a snake?

Every cat owner has encountered their kitties devouring small prey in and around the house. So, this raises the question if cats will eat a snake after killing them? Let’s explore.

Yes, it is natural for some cats (if not all) to eat snakes. It might be an uncomfortable sight for humans; it is the reality. Sometimes, a snake will put on a good fight only to find its ultimate demise and become a snack to the cat it was fighting against. 

However, one should keep in mind that while cats may consume some of the snakes they capture, they frequently leave behind several of the snake’s remains. And a cat won’t always attack a snake just because it’s hiding nearby. They will just avoid the snake and run away if they don’t think they have the upper hand or think the snake poses a greater hazard. 

Are snakes hazardous to cats?

Image Credit: Mangrove Cat Snake by
Seshadri.K.S
(CC BY-SA 4.0) from Wikimedia

If you have pet cats and snakes on your property, it is worth learning that the latter could harm the former. Let’s explore the facts.

Venomous snakes can be dangerous to cats. Cats generally avoid snakes unless they are completely certain that they can outrun them, but a snake can always sneak up on a cat and bite it. Additionally, a cat’s fear of snakes may result in psychological harm.

It’s important to prevent cats from spending time in places where venomous snakes are the dominant species. Additionally, it is wise to watch out for any symptoms that might indicate a snake has bitten your cat. For assistance, you might look at the probable signs listed below.

  • Dilated pupils
  • Shaking or shivering
  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy

Do cats possess better reflexes than snakes?

Snakes and cats are both skilled hunters. Additionally, these species favor ambushing their prey. Whose reflexes, however, are quicker? Let’s look up the specifics.

Felines’ lean muscles and light, robust bone structure enable them to move with deft agility and speed. Furthermore, cats can run at a maximum speed of 30 mph because of various gaits. On the contrary, the fastest-moving snake species, the sidewinder, moves at a speed of 18 mph. However, some snakes, such as rattlesnakes, have a lightning-quick attack speed.

A cat may have quicker reflexes than a snake, depending on its species. Although not all cats have the same reflexes, their premeditated attacks‌, good reflexes, sharp senses, and awareness often give them the advantage.

Best cats for killing snakes

True snake repellents never include cats. Although they attack smaller snakes because of their hunting and predatory abilities, they shouldn’t be utilized as natural snake repellents.

Some cats have extremely high prey drives and wouldn’t hesitate to attack snakes. The Bengal, Savannah, and Maine Coon are among the top cat breeds with a strong prey drive. Therefore, there is a good likelihood that these cats would be too agile for most snakes.

What are some snakes that are hard to be killed by cats?

Although cats’ natural inclinations would lead them to attack snakes, some snake breeds are too powerful for felines to handle. Let’s learn about them.

Keeping cats away from snakes is always a smart idea. The snake may occasionally be poisonous or too big for cats to catch. The list of snakes that might prove fatal to cats is provided below.

  • Copperhead
  • Large boa
  • Python
  • Carol snakes

Summary

Not all cats are snake hunters, even though they can kill snakes and, to some extent, keep them out of your yard. Additionally, some cats will naturally show a phobia of snakes. No matter what the cat does, it is not wise to assume that every cat will act similarly when encountering a serpent. As we have stated above, the interaction between a cat and a snake will be influenced by various circumstances. 

Atrayee

I am Atrayee, I have extreme passion for the Animal Kingdom and I have written a large number of articles for animal behaviors. I am an Animal Lover by nature and own two Cats.
Exploring new things through learning and unlearning is something that intrigues me a lot. I spend my free time with my husband and two cats. I must say I get to learn a lot of wise things from them! You can catch me on LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/atrayee-samaddar-06886567/

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