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My Cat Killed a Bat! 5 Tips on What to Do Next

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By Nicole Cosgrove

A single bat hanging from steel rafters

Despite their love for canned tuna and soft beds, cats are still one of nature’s finest predators. They’ll hunt anything and everything they can, whether that’s your hand, a mouse toy, or given the chance, small live animals like bats.

Coming home to a dead bat next to your smug cat can be shocking, but try not to panic. In most cases, your cat is likely going to be safe after killing a bat. Still, you’ll want to follow a few steps right after the encounter to minimize the risk to both you and your pet.

Click below to jump ahead:

The 5 Things to Do After Your Cat Kills a Bat

Bats are known to carry infectious agents like rabies, salmonellosis, bacteria, parasites, and even mites, so keep the following precautions in mind:

1. Keep everyone else away from your cat and the dead bat

First, quarantine your cat and the dead bat away from everyone else in your home. This can be as simple as initially shutting your cat in a room with the bat, then putting him in a cat carrier.

You don’t want other household pets trying to play with the dead bat (or worse, attempt to eat it), nor do you want to risk your cat accidentally scratching a family member while playing with them.

Dead bat on the stone wall
Image Credit: Lina Ptashka, Shutterstock

2. Secure the bat carcass carefully.

Your first instinct may be to throw away the bat, but refrain from doing so. For one, improper handling can spread any existing germs or parasites from the bat to other surfaces. Scavenging animals can get into trash cans, further spreading any pathogens.

In addition, the dead bat can also be tested for rabies, so you can be certain that your cat (and family) isn’t at risk. Local wildlife experts may also want to retrieve the bat for further examination.

Instead, contain it as carefully and quickly as you can, do the following:
  • Wear scratch-proof gloves before handling the dead bat. As an extra precaution, wear disposable gloves on top of that so the bat never comes into contact with your bare skin.
  • Prepare a container for the carcass. You can use a cardboard box with a lid, thick plastic bags or Ziplock (double- or triple-bag it!), or an old Tupperware container you’re happy parting with.
  • Put the bat in the container and seal it tightly.
  • Place the container somewhere secure. You don’t want other animals, kids, or adults to accidentally come into contact with the bat while it’s stored in your home (or anywhere else).
  • Make sure you dispose of any gloves, bags, or containers used to handle the bat.
  • Disinfect any surfaces the bat may have been in contact with. This includes floors, furniture, walls, and windows where your cat may have dragged the bat too. Don’t forget to clean and disinfect the cat carrier (or whatever you used to contain your pet) as well.
  • Wash your hands. Thoroughly and multiple times, then disinfect them with an antiseptic or hand sanitizer.

3. Call for professional assistance

After securing the dead bat, contact the relevant authorities.

Depending on your location, this may be:
  • Animal Control
  • Your local health department
  • Your state wildlife agency
  • Bat conservation/rehabilitation agencies near you

Some states even have an official bat reporting website, such as this one for Oregon. You can also call a local bat rescue for help.

They’ll be able to advise you on the best way to handle the bat and, in many cases, arrange for retrieval and testing of the bat.

woman holding a mobile phone
Image: Unsplash

4. Call your vet

Bats are currently the leading cause of rabies in the US, and while not all bats carry the virus, it’s a risk you don’t want to take lightly1.

There’s also no way of knowing what happened while your cat was hunting down the bat; they may have been scratched or bitten. Even the tiniest wound from a rabies-infected bat can become infected and eventually lead to serious health complications.

Call your vet as soon as possible and discuss the likelihood of rabies exposure. Depending on your cat’s age and vaccination history, they may require additional boosters or a diagnostic blood test.

Your vet can also check your cat for other injuries and the presence of parasites, bacteria, and other pathogens.

Finally, if you or any other family members were in the vicinity when this incident happened, your doctor may recommend rabies post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). This is a course of vaccinations and antibiotics that can help prevent infection in case of exposure.

5. Look out for any changes in your cat’s behavior

Monitor your pet for any changes in their behavior or health over the next week or two.

Note warning signs like:
  • Unusual lethargy or restlessness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Unexplained fever, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Itching, scratching or scabbing of the skin (or bite site)
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Excessive drool
  • Paralysis or weakness

Take your cat to the vet immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.

British lazy cat lies next to the food
Image Credit: Kitirinya, Shutterstock

The 4 Ways to Protect Your Cat from Bats (and Vice Versa)

Bats and cats don’t have a natural prey/predator relationship. In fact, bats are predators themselves, and quite helpful ones at that!

Their primary prey is insects, most of which are pests. Some studies have found that pest consumption by bats saves the agriculture industry around $3 billion a year. They also assist in pollination and seed dispersal for many plant species.

On the other hand, cat attacks are responsible for many bat deaths and injuries. Pet cats, in particular, simply do it for fun.

Therefore, it’s in the best interest of both your cat and the local bat population to manage the situation correctly. Use these tips:

1. Keep your cat strictly indoors

The most effective way to prevent wildlife-related incidents is to keep your pet inside. One encounter is all it takes for a cat to learn where a nearby bat roost is. There’s a serious risk of a cat returning to the roost and trying to hunt the bats down again.

Indoor cats are also less prone to accidents and injuries and are much better protected from the elements.

2. Keep your cat indoors at night

If you don’t want to keep your cat indoors 24/7, consider bringing them in at night. Bats typically emerge from their roosts two to three hours after dusk to hunt and feed. After that, they’ll fly home to sleep.

Bring your cat in half an hour before sunset and secure them indoors for at least a couple of hours after. This should minimize the opportunities your pet has to hunt bats.

polydactyl cat sitting on sofa
Image Credit: Meetmow, Shutterstock

3. Attach a bell to your cat’s collar

Adding a bell to your cat’s collar can help alert bats and other wildlife of their presence. That way, if your cat does try to hunt, the bat has more time to fly away and avoid contact.

We all know how curious cats can be! Keep your cat safe with our Hepper Breakaway Collar, made of 100% natural hemp. This collar's quick-release mechanism will make sure your cat never gets stuck, and the metal slip-locks will ensure a tight fit for any breed. Plus, the included jingle bell will protect your local wildlife.


4. Bat-proof your home and property

Bats are drawn to dark, quiet places like cavities in trees or man-made structures. It’s not uncommon for bats to find their way into homes and other buildings, often through cracks in the walls or crevices around windows.

If your cat caught the bat from a hidden roost in your house, call a professional ASAP. They can remove the bats safely, seal up any entry points, and help you prevent further incidents.

Reduce bat attractants in and around your property as well. For example, keep compost and food waste away from the house, clean up spilled birdseed, and keep pet dishes covered.


It’s impossible to suppress your cat’s hunting instincts, but knowing what to do if your cat kills a bat can reduce the risk of rabies, infections, and other injuries that can result from the encounter.

Act fast the moment you discover your pet has attacked or killed a bat. Keep everyone else away from the area, secure your cat, and carefully secure the carcass. Then, call your vet and relevant wildlife agency for further instructions.

At the same time, bats are protected by law and are essential to our ecosystem. Taking steps to protect them from cats is not just ethical, but also the responsible thing to do as a pet owner. Remember to keep your pet indoors, especially in the evening, bell their collars, and bat-proof your home to prevent wildlife encounters.

Featured Image Credit: jochemy, Pixabay

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