Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fight,
Angry k*tty, scratchy k*tty, bite, bite, bite.
Despite their reputation, cats are generally quite indifferent to humans. You might get a small nip, if you rub them up the wrong way, but your housebroken fat cat is unlikely to do any real damage. Cats are most likely to attack if they feel threatened – it is purely an act of self-preservation – so be cool when you approach the neighbourhood tabby. Whatever the reason, a bite, even from a healthy cat, can make you very sick. “How?” you may ask…
Despite the name, cat-scratch disease (CSD) also applies to cat bites. A cat’s mouth is home to an abundance of bacteria (no surprise given how they clean themselves) that are capable of causing tissue infections in bite wounds. The most common and most dangerous bacteria present are known as Bartonella hanselae and Pasteurella multocida. These bacteria are usually considered the main culprit of CSD and can be spread through bites, scratches, and your cat licking an open wound.
Signs Of An Infected Cat Bite
Cat bites are particularly prone to infection thanks to the cat’s needle-like teeth pushing the bacteria deep into the flesh, tendons, and joints. If the wound bleeds a lot, there’s a chance that the bacteria are washed out with the blood. However, these small, but deep, puncture wounds are often difficult to thoroughly clean. Since these wounds often seal over pretty quickly, the bacteria easily get trapped under the skin, where they spread quickly.
Signs of an infected cat bite include:
- Discharge from the wound
- Increasing pain
- Difficulty moving the affected body part
If you notice any of these symptoms, get emergency care as soon as you can. Late-stage symptoms of infection can include fever, weakness, swollen lymph nodes, headache, and a general feeling of being unwell.
Treating A Cat Bite
Some cat bites will heal without causing infections, but the general consensus is that all cat bites should get medical attention. Cat bites are highly infectious, and the deeper the bite, the higher the chance it will become infected. This infection can spread into the surrounding tissue, causing a condition called cellulitis (and no, it has nothing to do with your cellulite). The infection could also go on to poison the blood in a condition known as septicaemia.
Your first course of action after being bitten by a cat is to wash the bite under clean, running water. Avoid scrubbing the wound too vigorously, or using strong chemicals, which could harm the tissue and keep the wound from healing sooner. Rather consider cleaning the wound with a mild salt solution. Otherwise, control the bleeding by applying pressure to the wound.
That said, this is just what to do immediately after being bitten. However, no matter how well you think you’ve cleaned your cat bite, it’s always best to get to a doctor. CSD is not too serious and can be treated with a course of antibiotics, if medical treatment is needed at all. The only individuals that would be considered at risk are any person, who has a weakened immune system.
Keep in mind that, if left unattended, cat bites can be dangerous both to humans and other animals (so make sure you can afford a vet visit on those days when kitty is being a grumpy cat). So, make the Mother Financial decision to get the right help as soon as possible.