Why Cat Bites Are More Dangerous Than You Might Think

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Your cat's love nips might turn into something not so lovely. According to Mercury News, cat bites can be more serious than many expect.

Due to the bacteria found in cats and humans, feline bites can become easily infected, and in some cases, even deadly. Princy N. Kumar, head of the infectious diseases division at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital shared that close to 50 percent of all cat bites become infected.

"People underestimate the danger," Kumar told Mercury News, "and don't realize they should get a bite looked at right away. They don't realize that being bitten by a cat, they've got a 1-in-2 chance of getting infected."

Professionals recommend that you always come to the hospital if you receive a deep cat bite that punctures the skin. To treat this wound, you will need prophylactic antibiotics, something not available through self-treatment.

Cat bites often prove to be more serious than dog bites. Canines deliver crushing bites that don't penetrate far into the skin; cats, on the other hand, bite with their long, sharp teeth, introducing bacteria deep into the skin. A dangerous bacteria found in over 90 percent of cats, Pasteurella multocida, often leads to infection. This bacteria can mix with the staphylococcus and streptococcus found on human skin and cause serious health issues.

Thirteen percent of animal bite cases seen in emergency rooms are cat bites. These injuries can lead to hospitalization for bone infections, septic shock and surgery to clean out the deep wounds. Because of these serious effects, doctors asks anyone who receives a deep cat bite to go to the hospital, no matter how minor it may initially seem.

To prevent cat bites, there are a few easy steps to follow to keep you and your family safe. Never corner a feline, or try to pick up, kiss or hug a cat that seems frightened. Any friendly kitty can bite or scratch when it's scared, so it is important to recognize the signs of fear in felines. When cats are angry or scared, they will hiss, growl, arch their backs and pull back their ears. Try never to crowd or approach a cat showing these signs, even if it is your own pet. Since cats can become angered by rough handling, it is crucial to monitor interactions between cats and children.


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Uncle Bill

Much like many other comments:
Bitten by a half conscious cat that had collapsed on a wet road outside my home. Latter I had taking into my house to administer TLC. Deep bite in my left thumb, teeth met! nail bed involved, at about 10am by 4pm had pain in my armpit and arm with a red infection track line from thumb to arm pit.
Took advice from NHS direct about midnight then off to walk in clinic 6 miles away at 1am ~ oral antibiotics (Co-Amoxiclav 500/125, 3 times) and tetanus injection given; tremendous pain all night (no sleep) all next day accompanied by flu like symptoms and shivers.
Getting better now 3 days later. Have oozing painful thumb, and still some local swelling. Tracking mark had reached about 4/5cm wide up most of my arm at it's peak.
Have had a cat/kittens most of my life with previous minor bites and many scratches not causing problem problems.
So! suffice it to say don't ignore a deep cat bite seek further medical intervention.

May 13 2014 at 5:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

my cat never bit me hard.. but rarely just soft bites.. but yeah i got scratches from it.. but it never got serious..the wounds would heal within a short span of time.. nothing dangerous whatsoever happened to me.. i remained perfectly fine after all the scratches .. i believe its our psychy that leads to critical conditions.. its not a big deal if the cat is vaccinated n well groomed n clean ..
though i would'nt suggest to ignore the scars , but don't even make it a big deal ..don't make the scars a monster ...

May 03 2014 at 9:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was bitten on the forearm by my cat after my dogs startled her. I washed and bandaged it well then went on to work. In a matter of hours the redness & swelling extended to my entire arm below the elbow. I fortunately am an RN & at time worked in a family practice residency program...I was given a Tetanus booster & put on antibiotics immediately. The infection resolved quickly. PLEASE REMEMBER TO GET A TETANUS BOOSTER AFTER AN ANIMAL BITE IF ITS BEEN 10 YEARS SINCE YOUR LAST ONE!!!

April 23 2014 at 1:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cat bites can be very dangerous. We had a cat that bit my wife back in 1992 and it got infected.

February 15 2014 at 8:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well... I too never had any idea how serious a cat bite is!
My fiance tried to break up a fight between our very GENTLE cat and the neighbors, and OUR cat bit him multiple times on the hand and foot! Within hours went to walk in clinic cause it was Sunday--- got it cleaned out and antibiotics.. BUT by 10 pm last night, it was red and swollen and HORRIBLY painful! Wet to ER and he is now in hospital for at least 2 nights--- intravenous meds and pain pills... I just pray to God he does not need surgery!

February 10 2014 at 3:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just got out of the hospital today. I spent one night in the ER in seven days in the hospital. My inside only cat got out when I went out to put the laundry on. There was another cat out there and they got in a Tussle. When they separated from each other I picked my cat up. It's scared him and he bit me in the hand. He really ripped up my hand so I went to the ER and got stitches and antibiotic shot a tetanus shot and was put on two oral antibiotics. This was at about 10:20 PM. By ten the next night my hand and arm were red and swollen I had a blood poisoning line from my wrist to my shoulder. I was also running fever. I went back to the ER and was admitted into the hospital. I had two surgeries on my hand and two different antibiotics by IV all week. I have three drains in stitches that have to stay in my hand for two weeks. I can't get it wet and I have to do germ watches on it three times a day. I will have to start physical therapy after they take the drains out to regain use of my hand. Please don't assume that just because you've been to the doctor you are safe. Go back at the slightest sign of infection I was told that a matter of hours could have cost me my hand arm possibly life. I still love Mr. Kibbee I know he didn't mean to bite me. I had no idea Cat bites were so dangerous.

January 27 2014 at 3:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just got out of the hospital. I spent 1 night in the ER and 7 days in the hospital. My inside only cat got out when I went to the garage to put the laundry on.it was 10:20 pm. A neighbors cat was out there and they tussled a little. After they ran away from each other I picked mg cat up but when I touched him it frightened him and tore into my hand. I went to the ER, they stitched up my hand, gave my a tetanus shot, an antibiotic shot and started me on two oral antibiotics. The next night by 10 pm my hand and arm were red and so swollen, I had fever and a blood poison line from my hand to my shoulder. We went Bach to the ER and I was admitted and ended up surgery on my hand twice. I had two IV antibiotics all week. I have stiches and three drains in my hand for two more weeks. I can't get it wet and I have to do htem washed three times a day. Then I will have to do physical therapy as I have no use of my hand :( I still love my precious angel. He was scared and didn't mean to bite me. I had no idea cat bites could be do dangerous and PLEASE don't think just because you have been to the doctor and started meds you are in the clear. Go back right away A the slightest sign of infection. They said a matter of hours could have cost me my hand, arm maybe LIFE!

January 27 2014 at 3:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My husband was helping me with TNR. One cat turned and bit him in the finger on Sat night. Monday he went to the doctor for Augmentin 875. Three days later hospitalization IV antibiotics surgery to open the infection and clean it out. Released given Aug and Doxycycline went back -for follow-up finger still infected. Now I have to see another surgeon and infectious disease guy. DO NOT TAKE A BITE FOR GRANTED GO TO THE WALK-IN OVER THE WEEKEND FOR ANTIBIOTIC. I wish I did!

October 24 2013 at 9:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I picked up scared blind cat - he tore into my hand with the claws and teeth. The pain was so bad It put me on my knees. Stupid me never went to ER, but spent night with high fever and incredible pain.

July 03 2013 at 12:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brook Greenfield

A neighborhood outdoor cat attacked my indoor cat after it plunged into my dining room through the window screen. I broke the fight up without hesitation but came out of the debacle with two puncture wounds to my finger. My shots were out dated so it's a trip to the ER for me!

June 25 2013 at 11:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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