Cat Bites

Are cat bites dangerous?
Yes. All cats have a large number of bacteria, such as Pasteurella multocida, in their mouths which can be transmitted to the bite wound.  An infected bite wound can become red, swollen and painful with a risk of spread of infection elsewhere in the body.  Affected people may suffer from fever and flu-like signs, and rarely, may die if proper medical treatment is not sought.  Children, the elderly, ill and immunosuppressed individuals are particularly vulnerable to developing severe infections.

What immediate action should I take if bitten by a cat?
The wound should be washed under running water.  Scrubbing of wounds, use of strong disinfectants, ointments or other chemicals should be avoided since this may harm tissue and delay wound healing.  The wound may be cleaned in salty water (around one teaspoon of salt per pint of water).  Bleeding should be stopped by applying pressure to the wound using an absorbent dressing such as gauze which can be secured by elastoplast.
A doctor’s appointment should be made for assessment as soon as possible.

Do I need to see a doctor?
Yes. It is advisable to see a doctor as soon as possible, in order to receive appropriate wound care and follow-up treatment which usually includes a course of antibiotics.  This treatment is given in order to reduce the risk of signs of infection developing at the site of the bite (redness, pain, swelling) or elsewhere (fever, headaches, sickness).  Some wounds may need to be stitched while others will be left open to heal.  A tetanus booster may also be recommended if required.

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