Rattlesnake vs Cat: Who Would Win in a Fight?

Written by

Amy Sawy

Veterinarian. DVM


Joseph M. Plummer

Veterinarian, DVM, MVZ

rattlesnake vs cat

Rattlesnakes are among the most venomous snakes in the wild. Since cats are predators, they tend to run after these creatures in hopes of catching them.

But rattlesnakes will never back down without a fight. Although not as fast as felines, they are equipped with venom that can kill animals larger than them in minutes.

Fortunately, the fast reflexes of cats allow them to avoid the rattlesnake’s venomous bites. But in a rattlesnake vs. cat fight, can a cat kill a rattlesnake?

Rattlesnakes and Their Strength


Rattlesnakes are among the pitviper family. They grow from one to eight feet long and are popular for the rattles at the end of their snakes.

These snakes have powerful venom that can prevent blood from clotting and destroy internal tissues. However, they may prefer not to inject venom into their victims.

Fifty percent of the time, rattlesnakes bite only to scare their enemy and not kill it, so they do not release venom in those bites.

Despite their powerful venom, they are not aggressive, as they prefer to stay out of human sight.

The Strength of Felines


Cats are known for their agility. Their powerful leg muscles allow them to jump great distances.

As they jump, they can also twist and turn mid-air, thanks to their flexible spine and muscles.

Cats can even fit in tight spaces as they have small shoulder blades and narrow chests. So, if a rattlesnake crawls somewhere tight, the cat can easily chase it.

Once a cat catches prey, it uses its sharp claws and powerful paws to get a hold of it.

Who Will Win in a Cat vs. Rattlesnake Fight?


Cat Rattlesnake
Size 9 to 10 inches high

Weighs 7 to 10 pounds

30 inches long from head to tail

 4 to 8 feet long

Weighs 5 to 10 pounds

Senses Excellent sense of hearing and night vision

A heightened sense of smell

Poor eyesight; can sense heat through their pits

Good sense of vibration on the ground

Speed 30 miles per hour 2 to 3 miles per hour
Fighting Abiities Uses teeth and claws to hurt their opponents


High speed to ambush prey

Can strike extremely fast

Injects fatal venom into their opponent’s bloodstream

Can hide and pass through small space with minimal disturbance

The only way to identify who will win in a cat vs. rattlesnake fight is to compare their strengths. That said, here is a comparison of a cat and rattlesnake’s abilities:

1. Size


A cat usually reaches a height of 9 to 10 inches and a weight of 7 to 10 pounds. Their length is typically around 30 inches from head to tail.

Meanwhile, rattlesnakes are a lot longer, reaching a length of 4 to 8 feet. However, they are lighter than felines, weighing only about 5 to 10 pounds.

2. Senses


Cats have the best sense of hearing, but the best of all their senses is their sight. Their eyes are equipped with fantastic night vision that serves as their strength when fighting in low-light conditions.

On the other hand, rattlesnakes have poor eyesight, just like any other snake. However, they can sense heat using their pits, allowing them to identify when warm-blooded animals like felines are nearby.

They can also taste chemicals in the air using their tongues. This is another way for these animals to sense when there are predators around.

As the rattlesnakes slither on the ground, they can sense the movements of the attacker through vibration. However, cats’ soft and quick attacks do not leave many vibration signs for the snake to detect.

3. Speed


Are cats faster than snakes? The quick answer is yes, mainly because they have two sets of feet. These mammals can run as fast as 30 miles per hour.

Rattlesnakes can only reach a speed of 2 to 3 miles per hour.

4. Fighting capabilities

Cats use sharp teeth and claws to hurt enemies or catch prey. In this case, rattlesnakes have the upper hand, as their bites can inject deadly venom into their opponents.

These snakes can also strike their upper bodies so fast that their opponents cannot anticipate it.

Fortunately, cats are equipped with agility to avoid snake attacks. But this is not always the case, as some cats cannot avoid a rattlesnake’s attack, causing them to get bitten.

To answer the question of who will win in a cat vs. rattlesnake fight, the cat will win not just because they are faster but also due to how they fight.

In a battle, a cat will run and jump around its opponent, provoking it to strike back. The feline will do this until the rattlesnake is too tired to defend itself.

Once the rattlesnake has lowered its guard, the cat will bite it on the weak parts of its body until it dies.

Still, it’s worth noting that the rattlesnake will not easily back down. It will look for a way to bite its opponent, which will cause the feline to die.

The average cat’s reaction time is 20-70 milliseconds, which is faster than the average snake’s time of 44-70 ms
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How to Protect Your Cat From Rattlesnakes

Here are some of the best ways to protect your feline friend from a rattlesnake or any other snake:

1. Block entry points


Inspect your house for any possible entry points. If you see openings that are accessible to rattlesnakes, securely cover them to prevent them or any other pests from entering.

2. Keep your garden neat


Snakes like to hide in dark or busy places. So, if you let your feline friend play outdoors, always keep your lawn short and your bushes trimmed.

3. Keep your feline friend indoors


If you live in an area known for having a lot of snakes, the best thing you can do is to prevent your cat from lurking outdoors. If you worry that this may bore your pet, you can install interactive cat posts, toys, and other things that can physically stimulate them.

Final Thoughts

Cats are known hunters. Apart from this fact, they are also curious creatures. For this reason, it is only natural for your cats to attack snakes once they see them. When your cats fight snakes, the danger of getting killed is always possible.

In a rattlesnake vs. cat fight, the cat may likely win. But to prevent such from happening, snake-proof your home and lawn by covering openings and trimming shrubs.

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