If you own a cat or have previously volunteered at a cat shelter, you have probably experienced cat bites and scratches. Aggressive cats can inflict painful wounds which can be treated at home if they are not that serious. However, major wounds may require special attention.
Are Bites from Cats Dangerous?
Cat bites can be dangerous as one can get infected by bacteria present in the animal’s mouth. The most common bacteria found in the mouth of cats are known as Pasteurella multocida. When the infected cat bite spreads through the surrounding tissues, it can cause a condition known as cellulitis. It is also capable of spreading through the blood to other parts of the body causing a condition known as Septicemia or blood poisoning.
After the cat bite, the initial signs of infections will begin to show up within the first few hours. Its needle-like teeth can push bacteria into the tendons, flesh, and joints; hence, they are always at the greatest risk.
A cat scratch can also cause a bacterial infection known as cat scratch disease (CSD). This comes when they get infected with B. henselae when flea dirt and bites get into their wounds. They can also get infected by fighting with other infected cats.
The infected cats pass the germs to humans by inflicting deep wounds or even licking at their wounds or scabs. Although CSD is rare, it can cause serious complications in the eyes, brain, and heart; mostly, it may require intensive treatment.
Signs of Infection from Cat Bites and Scratches
The signs of early stages of infection from cat bites are:
- Oozing pus
The signs of late stages of infection include fever, headache, weakness, and swollen lymph nodes.
Treatment for Cat Bites
When a cat bites you, try to flush out bacteria as you can. You can do this by gently pressing the wound until it bleeds. Bleeding will help flush out the bacteria from the wound. Once the bleeding is controlled, use soap and running water to clean the wound. One way to lessen your chances of developing an infection is by washing the wound with an antibacterial soap immediately.
After that, cover the wound with a clean cloth or dressing. You can apply antibiotic ointment on the wound if you have it. Cover with a sterile bandage until you see a doctor. It is good to consult with a physician as the wound may require stitches. If the cat bites are on your child’s face, hand, or foot, take him to a doctor as soon as possible. They may need a tetanus booster, antibiotics, or rarely, rabies shots.
Get immediate medical care if:
- The wound is deep, large, and severe
- If the wound is on the face, neck, hand, foot, or close to a joint
- If the wound has pus
- If the wound does not stop bleeding even after applying direct pressure for 10 minutes
Treating a cat bite begins by taking the necessary safety measures at home. Since cat bites and scratches are often deep, they are of concern for infection. You should, therefore, follow the above simple steps in order to prevent the wounds from becoming a potentially serious medical issue.