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Are there any venemous cat species?



Venom is not just for snakes and spiders anymore - there are indeed extant venomous mammals, but not many. The ones currently known are the Australian duckbilled platypus (males only), two shrew species (the North American short-tailed shrew and the Eurasian water shrew), and the Caribbean Solenodon (a small shrew-like insectivore).

You might wonder how a platypus can be venomous with those big honking bills and no teeth. The toxin is actually delivered by spikes on their hind-ankles.

Another bizarre mammal, a very small primitive primate called the Slow Loris, also produces a venom. However, they seem to use it only for defense. Slow Lorises produce a toxin from glands at their inner elbows. They can take it in to their mouthes and then deliver it in a bite. Very tricky!

There is at least one example of an extinct venomous mammal – a mouse-sized mammal from North America called Bisonalveus browni. Researchers believe it was venomous due to groove lines in its teeth.

However there isn't currently any evidence for venomous cats, present or past. Science may yet surprise us though. Take for example this fascinating observation from Dr. Bryan Grieg Fry on the Slow Loris:

"Surprisingly it appears that the toxin is highly similar to the protein in cat dander that is responsible for cat allergies! This not only gives some indications as to the potential mechanism of action of the toxin but also raises the question as to whether the cat allergy is actually deliberate on the part of the cat and is actually a toxic defense!"

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