Cat Bites Can Lead to Severe Infections

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A Mayo Clinic study has found that cat bites may be more dangerous than originally thought. What feels like a small nip can lead to severe infections and possible hospitalization, Mother Nature Network reports.

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Cats do not have more bacteria in their mouths than dogs, but they typically bite deeper into the skin with their teeth. When they seem to be taking a friendly nip, they are actually pushing germs into tissues and joints that are more likely to cause infection.

"It can be just a pinpoint bite mark that can cause a real problem because the bacteria get into the tendon sheath or into the joint where they can grow with relative protection from the blood and immune system," study senior author Dr. Brian Carlsen said.

Researchers examined almost 200 patients with a cat bite on their hand and found that two-thirds of them were hospitalized from 2009 to 2011.

"When the cat bites the hand, the joints and tendons are protected with fluid and there is no circulation, so bacteria can grow like crazy, making treatment longer in some cases," Carlsen said.

Twenty-one of the 193 patients needed surgery to flush out the infection after the initial antibiotic treatment failed. After finding such staggering results, Carlsen advised extreme attention be paid to cat-bite wounds, especially to the hand or wrist.

"It may look like a pin prick, but the rule of thumb is to go see a doctor if a cat bites your hand," Carlsen said.

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We had 4 rescue cats. The 1st an orange & white tabby. He was getting old and I tried to pick him up to put on the bed. He nailed me in the right shoulder with those 2 big incisors. Went down to the gum line. Net day my hand was twice it's size, hot and my doc put me straight in the hospital. Pain was so severe, I was on morphine for a week. I still have some sleight nerve loss in my hand.That's been over 2 years ago. So just be conscious, no matter how much you love em, that their bite is far worse than a dog's.

April 16 2014 at 12:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My cats have nipped me on and off for over 30 years and no infections. It can happen, but it is rare. It's chance you take. Like my neighbor who had his face torn to shreds, and his lower lip needed to be reattached, from a dog bite.

With animals, you take your chances. I think they're worth it.

February 14 2014 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
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