If your cat seems to be sick. in pain. and is licking or scratching a certain spot relentlessly, you may want to consider the possibility that your cat has been bitten by a brown recluse spider. Here's why and what you can do to help your cat.
Why cats are susceptible to bites from brown recluse spiders
The brown recluse spider gets its name from being a recluse. They like to hide in dark places and dig into cozy areas to find the best spot, such as in a box with clothing or blankets in it, or in the back corner at the bottom of your closet. Since these are areas where cats usually like to hide, cats could unknowingly plot themselves right down on top of a brown recluse spider. And even though these spiders are not aggressive, they do protect themselves by biting when they feel threatened. Unfortunately, they bite with venom.
Symptoms your cat may have after it's bitten by a brown recluse
Your cat may not show signs of symptoms immediately after being bitten. It usually takes some time before the venom causes a reaction, depending on the severity of the bite and the thickness of your cat's fur. When you notice that your cat is constantly licking, scratching and/or rubbing a certain spot, take a close look to see if you can see a small dark lesion or scab. This signifies that the soft tissue around the bite is necrotic (dead) from the venom.
If you do notice this, study your cat's behavior for signs of nausea and joint pain. If the cat is nauseous, it may not have an appetite. If your cat has joint pain, it may limp or it may avoid walking as much as possible. It's important to be able to spot the earlier symptoms as soon as possible. If the cat doesn't get treatment, the venom could cause several very serious problems when it gets into the bloodstream, including kidney failure.
What diagnosis and treatment are necessary after a bite by a brown recluse
The longer the cat is not treated, the more damage the venom can do to their body. To determine whether or not your cat has truly been bitten by a brown recluse, your veterinarian can run a blood test to check for venom from a brown recluse spider. Treatment for a bite will, obviously, depend on the severity of the bite and the amount of venom found in the blood. Treatment may include IV fluid, cold compresses to the wound, blood transfusions, and/or surgeries to remove dead tissue.
For more information on what to do if your cat has been injured or seems sick, contact a veterinary clinic in your area.