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The Hidden Dangers of Cat Bites

Up to 5% of cat bites result in hospitalization. Do you know how to properly treat a cat bite?

If you have a spirited or playful cat in your home, somewhere along the way you’ll probably sustain an accidental cat bite. Cat bites account for around ten percent of all animal bites, but are responsible for a disproportionate number of serious bite infections. Many people aren’t aware of the potential dangers of cat bites and will avoid seeking medical condition until the infection is established. Knowing how to administer proper cat bite care is critical to preventing a serious infection that can spread from the bite wound to other areas of the body, including the heart.

Why are cat bites so concerning? A cat’s mouth harbors a bacteria known as Pasteurella multocida which is capable of setting up a serious systemic infection if introduced under the skin surface. Combine this with the fact that cats have very sharp, penetrating teeth and you have the potential for serious health consequences. The danger of cat bites is that not only can they cause infection and tissue damage in rare cases they can lead to death. This occurs when bacteria enter the blood stream and lodge in the heart valve where they can multiply and give off life threatening toxins.

What should you do if your normally friendly tabby accidentally grabs your arm with his teeth? If your cat’s teeth penetrate the skin, you should seek immediate medical help from a physician knowledgeable about how to treat a cat bite. Once a cat’s teeth have punctured the skin, there’s the potential for a deeper infection to occur which won’t respond to the local antiseptic agents you may have on hand in your home. Even though the bite may not appear serious to the visible eye, the potential for development of a deeper infection exists. In fact, up to six percent of all cat bites result in hospitalization.

Another danger of cat bites is the risk of rabies. This becomes an important issue if you’re bitten by a wandering cat. In addition to seeking medical attention for cat bite care, you should try to find the cat’s owner. Once you locate the owner of the errant feline, the cat will need to be quarantined for ten days to make sure no signs of rabies develop. You should also ask for proof of vaccination although this doesn’t override the need to quarantine the cat. If you don’t know the owner of the cat, contact your local animal control agency and report the incident to your city health department. If these agencies are unable to locate the animal, you may require rabies inoculations. Always keep your own cat vaccinated and have proof of vaccination records available.

The potential danger of cat bites requires that cat bite care be undertaken as soon as possible after the event. Don’t try to treat it at home. You could be putting your health and well being at risk.

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