I have had my fair share of cat bites and scratches in my life. From playing with my cat Messi or from handling little kittens, my body reveals scars from previous encounters. I have been lucky to have not gotten any infection from these bites or scratches, but if you ever get bitten or scratched by a cat, here is what you you should do.*
First, you want to wash the the newly bitten or scratched area with warm water and soap. If it's minor, this will be one of your best defenses against infection. Wash the area well and then you can use hydrogen peroxide to ensure it's been sterilized. I've been doing this method for as long as I can remember and so far so good.
If the cat bite or scratch is more severe, stop the bleeding by providing pressure to the area and head to your local urgent care or emergency room. I once had a scratch so deep on my face, I was close to stitches. Fortunately, it didn't get to that point, but I now have a killer scar on my cheek courtesy of my cat Messi.
If you disinfect the minor bite or scratch and it appears worse a few hours later, it's best to get the help of a medical professional. They will more than likely provide you with an antibiotic to prevent further infection. Some signs of when you know you need additional help is:
- Swollen area;
- Pain or discomfort;
- Body aches; and/or
- Swollen lymph nodes.
These symptoms can come on pretty quickly after the bite or scratch. A cat's sharp teeth and claws do a good job in pushing harmful bacteria and dirt into our flesh so it can get pretty serious if left untreated.
In the U.S. alone, over 400,000 people get bit by cats annually and out of those, 60,000 go to the emergency room for additional treatment. The majority of those who are bitten/scratched are female. Even if the bite or scratch is minor, another thing to consider is rabies. If your cat doesn't have the proper immunizations for rabies or is not vaccinated against it, you may be putting yourself at risk. If you potentially have rabies, the treatment and quarantine procedures can be unpleasant.
So how do you know if your bite or scratch is minor or serious? Every case is subjective and it also depends on the cat and the human. When in doubt, get it checked out. If left untreated, it can turn deadly. I've been lucky enough by getting away with washing and sterilizing at home, but am I fully aware of the signs.
Have you ever been seriously bitten or scratched by a cat? What was the experience? We can all learn from others so don't be shy to share your story below!
*This following post has been written by a non-medical professional. If you have been bitten or scratched by a cat, it's best to have it looked by a trained medical professional. The recommendations are only based off of personal experience and various sources on the web.