Depending on where you are from, you may easily find snails in your yard and the area surrounding your house. You may not have ever thought twice about these slimy little creatures hanging around, but you will want to be a little more cautious if you have a cat that you allow outdoors. Do cats eat snails?
Yes, cats do eat snails. However, snails provide minimal nutritional value to cats and can contain parasites that can cause sickness in cats. Most snails are not toxic to cats, however, some have poison glands that can cause severe illness in cats.
It is somewhat unusual for them to eat snails, though. Typically they will attack it and play with it until they are bored, and then they will move on. However, cats are natural predators, and small bugs are a part of their diet. Just because they can eat snails does not mean that snails are good for them and that this is a habit they should keep up.
Let’s explore some reasons to be cautious of snails around your cat.
Can Cats Eat Cooked Snails
Cats cannot eat cooked snails.
Even the raw snails they find in the yard are not something they should be ingesting. Cooking the snails does not make it any safer for them to ingest.
Snails can harbor parasites within them, and if this kind of snail is ingested, the parasite can transfer to the body that consumed it. When preparing a snail delicacy like Escargot, the snails are cooked in garlic butter.
This is not only for flavor; garlic butter helps kill these parasites to make them safe for humans to ingest. However, garlic can cause pancreatitis and is very toxic to cats.
Cooking the snails without garlic may have a chance of still killing any parasites with high heat, but it is honestly just a waste of a delicacy to feed your cat cooked snails.
Are Snails Bad For Cats
Generally, snails are not bad for cats.
Snails themselves are not toxic to cats and are technically safe for them to ingest. That being said, many factors can change how safe it is for a cat to eat a snail.
As mentioned above, if your cat eats a snail with a parasite, like a lungworm, in it, your cat will then get that parasite.
Depending on your cat’s age and overall well-being, they could eliminate the parasite with the help of your veterinarian and go back to normal soon.
If they have any pre-existing conditions or they are a little older, a parasite can be risky for them to have. It may take them longer to recover or start to experience other side effects that could last the rest of their lives.
It also depends on the type of snail your cat ingests. Some snails are poisonous, and while their poison may not cause death, it will make your cat severely sick. Once again, your cat’s age and well-being will play a role in how quickly they bounce back from a sickness like this.
The most significant risk with your cat eating snails is the possibility that the snail has been poisoned. It is popular for exterminators to use snail pellets that contain metaldehyde.
Snails produce mucus to keep themselves slimy enough to glide across surfaces without injuring themselves smoothly. Metaldehyde dries out this mucus, as well as bloating them so they will dry out and die.
These pellets are designed to smell like food to attract snails, but this also attracts cats. Especially if your cat is in the habit of eating snails, they may eat the pellets because it smells good to them.
If they ingest a pellet, the metaldehyde will start to attack their nervous system. They may start to experience tremors, drool more frequently, or seem restless. These symptoms can lead to seizures or death. It is best not to let your cat eat snails so you never have to run the risk of them ingesting a pellet that could hurt them.
Is Snail Slime Harmful To Cats
Snail slime is not technically harmful to cats, but some factors could make it an issue. Snail slime itself is mucus being secreted from the snail’s body so that they can move around. They secreted two different kinds of slime to help them glide and help them climb up surfaces.
The slime might not hurt your cat, but there is the chance that other things could get stuck in it that your cat could accidentally ingest. Small bugs could get trapped, and your cat may take the opportunity to pounce and eat one.
There is a chance these bugs could be carrying disease or poison that could harm your cat. Or plant matter can get stuck in the slime, and your cat may be allergic to certain kinds of pollen. A
lso, if your cat gets in the habit of eating snail slime or looking for snail slime to ultimately find snails, there is a possibility of them eating a snail pellet. T
he pellet already smells like food; if it also smells like snails, they will be even more attracted to eating it. It is best to clean away as much snail slime as you can before letting your cat play outside.
Can Snails Kill Cats
It is entirely possible that snails can kill cats, but it is very unlikely. For example, there is a type of snail called the Cone snail that has poison glands. These glands can inject lethal doses of poison into cats.
So eating a Cone snail would lead to death or at least severe illness in cats. However, Cone snails are marine creatures that live in tropical reefs. It is very unlikely your cat will ever encounter one.
The snails that exist in your backyard do pose a threat too, but it is unlikely they will kill your cat. If anything, your cat may get sick and need some medical attention.
Are Garden Snails Toxic To Cats
A garden snail is not toxic to your cat if it is a healthy, normal garden snail. If the garden snail is carrying lungworm, then that lungworm will get transferred to your cat, which is incredibly toxic. Lungworm can be a severe condition for young kittens, senior cats, and any cats with pre-existing immune issues.
Cats can also experience vomiting and diarrhea from eating snails. If they are not used to eating them, it is very likely they will get sick the first time they do. As snails glide along surfaces, other things stick to them because of the mucus that secretes their bodies.
Things that are stuck to the surface of the snail could be toxic to your cat and cause illness. To keep your cat as safe as possible, it is best to keep them from eating garden snails and any other kind of snail.
What Happens If A Cat Eats A Snail
If your cat eats a snail, several things can happen. It is honestly most likely that nothing is going to happen. Especially if it’s just one snail and your cat is relatively healthy, it is not likely anything bad will happen to them.
Hopefully, this eases your mind, and you can feel confident knowing that your cat eating one snail does not automatically guarantee devastation.
It is still essential to be vigilant and monitor your cat after eating the snail. If you can, try to get them to drink a lot of water to flush anything out that could be entering their system.
Make sure they even want to drink water; if you notice them becoming dehydrated, then seek medical attention for them. This also applies to if you notice them not eating or eating less and less.
Please pay attention to their bathroom habits as well. If you do not already, clean their litterbox very frequently so you can take note of what you see. You want to pay attention to how frequently they are urinating and defecating.
You also want to pay attention to the consistency of their bowel movements. Diarrhea or constipation could indicate there is a more significant issue at hand.
If their eating and bathroom habits seem normal, still observe their general behavior. If they have eaten a snail pellet when eating a snail, they may start to shake, drool, or become restless.
They may even experience a seizure. You also want to look for symptoms of lungworm, which could have been contracted when eating infected snails. These are some of the symptoms of lungworm:
· Reluctancy to move
· Rapid weight loss
· Difficulty breathing
· Blood in urine and feces
· Bloodshot eyes
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact a veterinarian immediately.
How To Stop Cats From Eating Snails
The easiest way to stop cats from eating snails is not to let them have access to snails. Keeping your cat as an indoor cat will ultimately keep them safer from snails and other things outdoors that could threaten their well-being.
If you would like to take your cat outside, the best idea is to monitor them the entire time. Using a harness and a leash will always keep them near you, or you could construct a safe play area that is free from snails.
Besides keeping them away from snails, you can start introducing new treats and food to them to hopefully distract them. If they become obsessed with a new flavor, they may entirely forget about the snails.
Also, take some time to play with them more. Cats only go after snails because they are moving around and they want to hunt something. If you play with your cat and tire them out enough, they won’t even want to attack snails when they go outside.
Things To Consider
While snails themselves are not toxic to cats, there are too many factors that can affect snails and ultimately affect your cat. Snails can carry parasites within them that could hurt your cat. Or they could lead your cat straight to a snail pellet that could severely harm them. Keep your cat safe and eliminate any risk by keeping them away from snails.