Cat Bite Injuries to Humans – VCA Animal Hospitals
why do cat bites get infected so easily?
When a cat bites, its sharp canine teeth easily pierce the skin, leaving small but deep wounds in the skin.
These punctures seal quickly, trapping bacteria from the cat’s mouth under the bite victim’s skin, where they can easily multiply. A similar type of injury occurs with cat scratches: the extremely sharp, curved nails go deep into the skin, essentially injecting bacteria deep into the puncture wound. Depending on the location and depth of the wound, the bacteria can spread into surrounding tissues causing a condition called cellulitis.
Are cat bites dangerous?
Cat bites can be dangerous both to other animals and to humans. In their mouths, all cats carry a large number of bacteria that are capable of causing tissue infections in bite wounds. One of the more common is highly pathogenic bacteria known as Pasteurella multocida. An infected cat bite wound will be red, swollen, and painful, and the infection can spread through the surrounding tissues, causing a condition called cellulitis, or through the blood to other areas of the body, causing a condition called septicemia (often called blood poisoning).
Infected people may experience fever and flu-like symptoms and, in rare cases, may die if proper medical treatment is not sought. children, the elderly, the infirm, and immunosuppressed people are particularly vulnerable to developing serious infections if bitten by a cat.
what immediate action should I take if I am bitten by a cat?
The wound should be washed immediately with running water. avoid rubbing wounds vigorously or using strong disinfectants or other chemicals, as this can damage tissue and delay wound healing. You can clean the wound with a mild saline solution, made by mixing 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of table salt in 2 cups (500 ml) of water. control bleeding by applying direct pressure to the wound with an absorbent dressing or bandage.
You should see a doctor as soon as possible. Most cat bite wounds are small punctures that drive pathogenic bacteria deep into the skin. if left untreated, a serious infection can develop within twenty-four to forty-eight hours.
do I really need to see a doctor?
yes. it is advisable to see a doctor as soon as possible so that the injury is properly treated. Your doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics to reduce the risk of an infection developing at the site of the bite or anywhere else in the body. Some wounds may need to be sutured (stitched up), while others will be left open to heal. a tetanus booster may also be recommended.
Depending on the severity of the bite and the surrounding circumstances, your doctor may also recommend that you receive rabies prophylaxis.
what will happen to the cat in this case?
In many jurisdictions, your doctor will need to submit a report to the local health department. if the cat’s rabies vaccination status is known and up-to-date, the cat will typically be placed in a short quarantine, ranging from 10 to 14 days. if the cat’s rabies vaccine has expired, the quarantine may last longer.