Cat attack: Marsh rabbit suffers spinal trauma

May 6, 2022

A marsh rabbit was among the 119 animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week.

The marsh rabbit arrived mid-morning; the woman who brought the marsh rabbit explained her cat had caught the rabbit the previous day. While she was filling in the admission form, staff brought the rabbit to the intake room and began the admissions process. Staff opened the transport box to begin a physical exam; it was obvious the rabbit had suffered significant spinal trauma resulting in paralysis. Other injuries were immediately apparent as well.

Hospital staff spoke with the woman for details about the situation. The woman explained that her cat caught the rabbit and, in the past, had actually caught numerous animals that she had brought to our hospital. The woman told me she left the marsh rabbit outside thinking it might just hop into the bushes. When it still hadn’t moved by the following day, she brought it to the hospital.

Marsh rabbit admitted to von Arx Wildlife Hospital after cat attack
Marsh rabbit admitted to von Arx Wildlife Hospital after cat attack

There were many educational points made through this case as well – the main one being that any wild animal that has interacted with a cat must come to the wildlife hospital. All cats have numerous bacteria in their saliva that can cause severe infections that can prove fatal if not given antibiotics and care for their wounds. Left untreated, abscesses can form and septicemia can occur. Injuries from cats can be significant; many animals suffer neurological damage and paralysis (as was the case with the marsh rabbit) because cats hunt to kill and typically grab their prey at the base of the neck causing spinal damage.

Please, do not allow your cat to roam outdoors unattended. Even well-fed cats have the natural instinct to hunt. Feral cats and free-roaming cats have devastating impacts on native wildlife populations. By keeping your cat indoors, cat attacks are preventable.

I’m not just preaching on what others should do, I have a cat and, believe me, I know it takes time and effort to give her the exercise and behavioral enrichment she would get if she was allowed to explore outdoors but that’s part of being a responsible pet owner, so is cleaning her litter box. The chance that my wonderful cat could be hit by a car, catch a deadly disease, be exposed to parasites, be eaten by a coyote, or be attacked by a neighborhood dog is horrifying.

There are tons of cat toys and ways to keep cats happy and healthy indoors. Spread the word about the importance of keeping cats inside; keeping your cat indoors ensures your beloved pet stays safe and keeps wildlife safe as well. Visit for more information.

Recent Releases

A red rat snake, a northern parula, a worm-eating warbler, two osprey, nine eastern cottontails, five eastern screech owls, a big brown bat, a marsh rabbit, four common grackles, two brown thrashers, two mourning doves, three northern mockingbirds, a boat-tailed grackle, a blue jay, a royal tern, a red-bellied woodpecker, five brown pelicans and three double-crested cormorants were released this past week.

Wildlife Baby Shower – Now until June 4

Baby season is here at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital! We have many baby birds, ducklings, opossums, squirrels, raccoons and many others currently in our care. From now until June 4th, we are running an ongoing fundraiser for the many injured baby animals we have been receiving.

Our Amazon Wish List contains a multitude of tangible items we need to support these animals. If you would like to support these babies in this way, please click here.