Although dog bites are more frequent than cat bites or scratches, injury from a cat can be much more concerning. Part of the difference is in the nature of the bite and the mechanics of their mouths. A dog bite can tear bones and usually breaks flesh. But when a cat bites, the wound is usually a severe puncture. Subsequently, it’s a challenge to ensure that the wound is adequately cleaned. If you or a loved one is bit by a cat, you should take care of the wound immediately. Some very dangerous complications can occur with scratches or bites, and so it’s critical that you not underestimate the importance of care and attention.
What Are Some of The Infections That Can Be Transferred?
If you’ve been bit or scratched by a cat, there may be many germs inside their claws or mouth—germs that can lead to infection. It’s important to take these infections seriously. Additionally, some bacteria, such as Staphylococcus, might be pushed from the surface of your skin into the wound. Although it is rare, infections can cause serious complications Here are some of the more common diseases to be aware of.
- Cat-Scratch Disease (CSD)
The bacteria Bartonella henselae is the main culprit of CSD. The Bartonella bacteria live inside the cat’s mouth and usually spread when the cat licks its paws. If you notice blisters or bumps near your wound within the first 10 days or so, it might be CSD.
Tetanus is caused by the bacteria Clostridium tetani, which often lives in soil or animal feces. Once tetanus enters the body through a wound, it reawakens and begins to grow. Most people know tetanus by its common name, lockjaw. It can be a fatal disease, so be certain to see a doctor if symptoms arise.
Rabies is perhaps one of the better-known infections associated with animal bites. Although transmission through a cat is less frequent, it does still happen. As of 2020 in Illinois, all domestic cats must have rabies vaccines.
- Staph Infections & MRSA
Staph infections and MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) can cause a variety of infections, from skin infections to lung infections to blood infections.
How To Avoid Cat Bite and Scratch Injuries
Cats are very sensitive creatures and easily react when they are frightened, angered, or feel threatened. You must pay attention to a cat’s body language: pinned ears, a quickly flicking tail, and dilated pupils are all signs that a cat is potentially irritated or annoyed. These are all precursors to aggression on the part of the cat. Respect the cat’s signals and give them plenty of space.
Taking Care of the Wound
If a cat does bite or scratch you and there is significant bleeding, attempt to stop the bleeding first. This is accomplished by applying direct pressure to the wound after placing a cloth or some gauze over the scratch or bite. If the wound is on a limb, lift the arm or leg above the heart. Once the bleeding stops, wash the wound with warm water and soap.
On the other hand, if the wound seems minimal, then the first step you should take is to wash the wound out with soap and warm water. You should continue to wash the wounded area multiple times a day. After cleaning the wound, place fresh dressings on it, and continue to watch it for any signs of more significant problems. If your tetanus shot is not current, immediately get one.
Regardless of how severe (or minimal) the injury may seem, you need to always consult a doctor about it. It’s impossible to know what germs are deep inside the puncture and so you need to speak with a health professional. They will be able to advise you on any further steps.
According to the Illinois Animal Control Act, if a domesticated cat bites you, the cat’s owner is responsible for your injuries. Although the law specifically names dogs, the opening lines read, “When a dog or other animal…” In fact, courts have upheld the law as referring to animals beyond dogs. If you or a loved one has been bit or scratched by someone else’s cat, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the lawyers at Cullotta Bravo Law Group for a free consultation at 630-898-7800.