Cats are wonderful companions but they have a tendency to get protective and use their claws and teeth. In this article we go over what to do if a cat bites you. Most owners will deal with some form of cat bite over their lifetime, and there are steps to take that will help you through it.
How Bad is the Bite?
Cats don’t always bite hard and will use their teeth to warn or even play with you. There are also times where they mean it and their teeth break the skin, this can end up being bad. What to do if a cat bites you hard?
- Take a preliminary look at the wound and determine how badly the person has been bitten.
- If it is a child that has been bitten they may get upset regardless of the amount of damage due to being scared.
Clean Up the Wound
Any time you get a wound you should start by washing it with clean water regardless of the severity. If the teeth didn’t puncture you still want to disinfect the area.
- Start by running clean water over the area and giving it enough time to wash any dirt or debris away. This can take a few minutes as you need to get all the bacteria rinsed off.
- You can help the process by squeezing underneath the bite to help accelerate blood flow and push other things to the surface.
It is Time For Disinfection of the Wound
You will want to use peroxide or rubbing alcohol and some form of cotton to apply it. Cotton balls or swabs will work fine, and be prepared for it to hurt a bit. You should be safe using:
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Rubbing Alcohol
Play it Safe With Topical Antibiotic
If you don’t already have a topical antibiotic cream you should go to the pharmacy and pick up some. You want to be careful when it comes to animal bites and an antibiotic will take care of any minor infections.
- There are many over the counter triple-action creams available and they all work basically the same way.
- If the bite is on a child you should speak to a pharmacist or doctor before using antibiotic cream.
Time to Add Extra Protection
As with any wound that you suffer it should be properly covered and protected once it has been treated. Choose an appropriately sized bandage and make sure it is completely covered.
- Cats don’t tend to make large wounds, as they are smaller animals, so you should be fine with a typical bandage from your emergency kit.
- Always make sure the area is free of moisture before covering with the bandage.
6. How to Treat a Cat Bite Video
When to Go to a Doctor?
If You Cannot Take Care of the Bite
There are numerous reasons you can’t take care of the bite yourself, including:
- Wounds that won’t stop bleeding
- Any bite on the face
- Any bite that is extremely deep
- Any bite the goes into a tendon, joint, or ligament
- Any bite that mauls surrounding tissue
- Talk to Your Doctor Immediately
Your doctor will have to evaluate the wound and may treat it a number of different ways:
- Sew wounds shut if needed
- Order x-rays to see about internal damage
- Take away mauled and infected tissue
- Referral to a specialist if needed
Your Doctor May Prescribe Medication
With animal bites, especially cats, it is important to know how much risk there is of infection. There is a lot of bacteria in the mouth of a cat and you may need antibiotics to take care of it. This is especially true for anyone with health problems that lead to a weakened immune system. Common medications are:
- Ciprofloxacin Hydrochloride
What is the Risk of Catching a Disease?
You need to be extra careful with animal bites as they are a very common way that infectious disease is spread. There are steps to take to determine your risk:
Has the Cat Been Vaccinated?
It is crucial to know if that cat that bites you has its vaccinations or not, as unvaccinated animals will be at high risk to spread disease.
- You will know if your own pet is immunized. If it is a pet and you know the owner you need to check with them right away. Most people will have their own family pets vaccinated.
- If you don’t know the cat you better play it safe and go to a doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will be able to test you for certain symptoms and diseases and give you the information you require. Regardless of if the cat was vaccinated, it is a good idea to consult with a physician if you can.
Get Your Vaccines Up to Date
There are a number of different diseases that a cat could potentially carry, and you need to be protected. The following are vaccinations you want to be aware of:
- Rabies Vaccination: rabies is a very well known disease that is characterized by erratic behavior and foaming at the mouth. The problem is that symptoms don’t always show like this and it will still be fatal. It is better to be vaccinated just to be safe.
- Tetanus Shot: The tetanus shot has been used for many years to prevent infection from bacteria that comes from animal droppings and the dirt. They are normally good for a five year period.
Keep Your Eyes on the Wound
There are things you need to look out for with your wound that will make you want to see a doctor immediately:
- Fever and chills
- Increased levels of pain
- Pus, fluid, bad smell in wound
- Redness and swelling that won’t dissipate
- Swelling of glands and lymph nodes
How to Prevent Future Bites
Prevention is always the best practice when it comes to cat bites, as a little bit of work and effort can make you much safer.
Pay Attention to the Cat
Animals are not known to hide their emotions, and cats are no different. If a cat is feeling like it is threatened it will show obvious signs of it. This should be your cue to stop what you are doing an re-evaluate. Your cat could do some of the following:
- Growl and hiss
- Stand straight up with its fur sticking up as well
- Ears go flat
Treat Cats With Respect
Cats respond much better to kindness and calmness, so keep in mind some of the things that may cause them to become defensive.
- Don’t pull the tail
- Be aware when playing roughly, they may lose control even though they are happy
- They startle easily, keep that in mind.
- Don’t pick up a cat unless they are comfortable with it
Stray Cats Should Be Avoided
A stray cat may seem like a new friend but they really should be avoided. Sure they are cute but they are feral and not nearly as domesticated as a house pet.
- Never feed cats that are stray or feral, they will keep coming back.
- Remember that cats startle easily and feral cats even more so.
How to Stop Your Cat from Biting You Video
Additional Questions and Concerns
Why Such a High-Risk of Infection?
The main problem with a cat bite is that the puncture wounds are small and will start to close over very rapidly. Combine that with a mouth that is full of different bacteria, and you are just asking for an infection. Once the bacteria are under the skin it is comfortable and has time to lay roots and start a family. If the infection starts to spread, known as cellulitis, it can end up being extremely serious.
How Worried Should I Be About Cat Bites?
Bites from any animal are going to be considered dangerous, both to humans and other animals. Cats are no exception to the rule and actually have an even greater chance of causing infection due to the sheer volume of bacteria they carry with them. These wounds are going to hurt and be very swollen and red if infected by something such as Pasteurella multocida.
Cellulitis and septicemia are other risks if a cat bite gets infected and starts spreading from the initial wound. These are infections that spread through tissue or blood respectively and can end up causing major health problems.
If you or anyone you know starts showing signs of an infected bite you need to get medical treatment immediately. You can start getting extreme flu-like symptoms if not treated and it is sometimes even fatal.
Are Doctors Really Needed?
This shouldn’t even be a question as an animal bite is a serious issue and doctors should most certainly be involved. The only way to get treatment and medication for infections is to see a medical professional. If you are infected you are risking the infection spreading throughout your body if you don’t seek treatment from a professional.
You may also want to talk to the attending physician about getting shots for tetanus and rabies, as these are a very real threat. You are going to want to play it safe with a cat bite and do exactly as your doctor recommends.
How is the Cat Dealt With?
It is difficult to say what will happen with a cat who bites someone. Every area is going to have a different set of rules and every bite is going to be a unique situation. If the cat does have rabies there are treatment and quarantine procedures available to make them healthy again.