Treatments for a White-Tailed Spider Bite in Cats

By Katherine Philipp

No cat owners want their cats to be bitten by a spider, as bites can be uncomfortable and lead to infection. White-tailed spiders are among the spider species that are lethal to cats, and are often able to kill a pet with a single bite. If your cat has been bitten by a white-tailed spider, it is crucial that you act fast. Spider bites can cause very large dead tissue wounds which will continue to spread if not treated immediately. Take your cat to the vet as soon as possible, both to avoid irreversible damage to your cat and to put an end to its pain.

Identifying a White-Tailed Spider

White-tailed spiders can be identified by the white tip, which resembles a tail, at the end of their body. Males and young spiders also have striped legs and up to four white spots on the top of their abdomens. The rest of their body is reddish brown in color, and lemon-shaped. They average between 1-2 cm, or a little under an inch, in length, and as such are easy to spot both by you and your playful cat.

Location of White-Tailed Spiders

Found only in Australia and New Zealand, white-tailed spiders prefer warm climates. They can often be found outdoors under dead leaf litter, in hollow logs, and on the bark of trees. Outdoor cats are at particular risk of white-tailed spider bites, especially if you live in a wooded area. These spiders have also adapted to urban environments, putting inside cats and other pets at risk, as well. In homes they can be found under carpets, in folded clothes, and in blanket folds -- all places where cats like to rest. The spiders are able to squeeze into tight spaces and, therefore, can often be found in cracks and small holes. Cats that enjoy a game of chase often like to paw at white-tailed spiders, provoking a bite.

Treatment and Symptoms of a White-Tailed Spider Bite

Because white tailed spider bites are incredibly dangerous to felines, it is critical that you seek the aid of a vet as soon as possible. There is nothing you alone will be able to do to help your cat. Veterinarians will be able to administer an anti-venom to reduce the toxins in your cat's body. Bites can cause very infected wounds which may require your cat to be sedated in order to remove all infected tissue. On the way to the vet, ease your cat's pain by applying a cold compresses to the area of the bite.

Visual signs of a white-tailed spider bite will be a red itchy lump, swelling, discoloration around the area, blistering and ulceration on your cats skin. Nausea, diarrhea and vomiting can also occur.

Preventing Future White-Tailed Spider Bites

If you live in an area with white-tailed spiders and keep cats, preventing spider bites is key. Outside your home, rake up any leaf litter where white-tailed spiders may be lurking. Be sure to vacuum up any webs you find, and thoroughly vacuum inside any small cracks or holes in your home's interior. If your cat's bedding, scratching post, litter box or food dish are near areas that might harbor white-tailed spiders, consider moving them. Take extra care in vacuuming these areas. Be sure to shake out any clothing left on the floor for any length of time, as well as bedding, to keep your cat -- and yourself -- safe.