Alice Hudson is a 6-year-old girl from East Yorkshire, England who was bitten while she was playing with her cat Tigger. It wasn’t intentional on the cat’s part. Instead, the bite happened because Alice had reached a thrown ball an instant before Tigger with the result that he winded up biting her when he was seeking to bite on to the ball. The girl’s mother Chantelle Hudson came in as soon as she heard Alice call out in pain. After which, she proceeded to run Alice’s five puncture wounds under cold water before putting antiseptic on them. Unfortunately, Alice started screaming in pain while refusing to let other people touch the bitten arm within just two days of the incident, which prompted Chantelle to bring her to the Hull Royal Infirmary because it was clear that Alice’s puncture wounds had become infected.
As it turned out, four of the five puncture wounds had become infected with a bacteria called Pasteurella, which can be found in the mouths of cats as well as a number of other species. Generally speaking, most cases are handled using oral antibacterials, while more serious cases are handled using intravenous antibacterials in a hospital setting. However, Alice’s case was so bad that she had to undergo surgery to remove some of the damaged tissue, be administered 48 hours’ worth of antibacterials, and then be sent home with another two weeks’ worth of antibacterials. Said routine was enough to cure the Pasteurella infection. Furthermore, Alice has since managed to reconcile with Tigger because the bite wasn’t intentional, though the two now play together under much closer supervision than before. As a result, while the whole incident can’t be called a happy story, it could have ended much, much worse than this.
Why Do Cats Bite?
In this particular case, the cat bite wasn’t intentional in nature. However, there are plenty of other cases in which cats bite while meaning it. Most cases won’t go as wrong as this one, but it is nonetheless a serious problem, meaning that interested individuals might want to look into the potential solutions.
Generally speaking, the process starts with interested individuals seeking to understand what is causing the cat to bite people, which can be rather laborious and time-consuming because there are a number of possibilities. For example, it is possible that the cat was separated from its mother and its siblings too soon, meaning that it hasn’t received enough socialization to realize that being bitten isn’t something that others will tolerate. In contrast, another cat might be biting because it wants to send a message of some kind to the person that has been bitten, whether because it is feeling threatened or because it is seeking to show its dominance. This is particularly probable if the cat doesn’t back down after it has bitten someone, which should provide interested individuals with some insight into what it is thinking. Finally, it should be mentioned that there are some cats that bite rather than meow when they want to communicate certain things to those around them, which is a nuisance but should be trainable.
Naturally, the exact method used to train a cat out of biting should be tailored to the reason that it is biting. For example, if the cat is biting because it wasn’t socialized enough, that means it is up to the cat owner to make up for that lack either on their own or with the help of a well-socialized adult cat that understands the rules of appropriate interaction. Likewise, if cat owners are concerned about raising a cat that bites a lot, they might want to stop encouraging such behavior while simultaneously seeking to discourage it as much as possible. Sometimes, this means not presenting hands for cats to play with, which can encourage them to become more aggressive. Other times, this means praising cats for not biting as well as making the kind of noises that another cat would make to convince them to stop when they do bite down. Besides this, interested individuals might also want to learn some tricks to minimize the potential complications of a cat bite, with an excellent example being how pushing it towards the cat while bitten rather than pulling away can actually be more helpful for getting them to stop because the latter action tends to encourage their natural instincts. Moreover, it should be mentioned that physical punishment is never the right solution to such scenarios, not least because that can be very counter-productive by making cats more inclined to defend themselves by attacking.
Why Can Cats and Dogs Spread Infectious Diseases to Humans Anyways?
On another note, some people might wonder how pathogens can spread from animals to humans. If so, the answer is that we are similar enough that something that can survive in our animal companions has a fighting chance of surviving in us as well. In fact, such pathogens can actually be more dangerous because our bodies have no experience with fighting them off, as shown by the various examples of pathogens that weren’t particularly dangerous in their original host species but can become much more so when they manage to make the jump into something else. On top of this, it should be remembered that pathogens evolve fast, meaning that they have a much easier time adapting to new environments and thus new host species than organisms that don’t breed as much as fast. This is the reason why so many people were so concerned about both bird flu and swine flu even though their difficulty spreading to humans made it clear that they hadn’t managed to make a complete transition to our species when the panic was at its highest level.
In any case, a lot of human diseases can have their origins traced to domesticated animals, as shown by how said diseases have a specific name in the form of zoonotic diseases. This is because humans spend so much time in the company of domesticated animals, thus providing more opportunities for pathogens to make their way over. Alice was particularly unlucky in that her cat managed to puncture the skin that serves as one of a human’s first lines of defense, thus making it that much easier for the Pasteurella to spread.