If you are the owner of a cat or you work in a role that involves handling cats, then it is most likely that you will get bitten by a cat at some point. While a cat bite may be malicious, it can also be the result of playfulness. Regardless of the reason the cat has decided to bite you, it is essential that you treat it appropriately to avoid the wound becoming infected. Here are some of the reasons why a cat may bite and how to treat the wound and avoid infection if you are unlucky enough to experience a cat bite yourself.
Why Do Cats Bite?
There are many reasons why a cat may bite you. In most instances, a cat will bite when they perceive a person or a situation as being a threat to them. They will then bite the person as a way of defending themselves. It is not an indication of whether they like a person or not, it is simply self-preservation behavior.
Another reason a cat may bite is to protect themselves if they are in pain and a person is trying to handle them in a way which will cause them more pain. A cat cannot tell a person that they are hurting and will show it in their behavior instead. Their natural reaction is to hiss, scratch and bite.
Not all cat bites are malicious and they may not intend to cause you harm. For example, you may receive a bite from a cat while playing with them. A cat biting is sometimes a sign of excitement or overstimulation. Playful cat bites are particularly common amongst kittens and younger cats.
There are some signs to look for that can indicate that a cat is about to bite. These include hissing, crouching, growling, yowling, and pinning their ears and whiskers back. If you see these signs, it is best to keep your distance as the cat is displaying behavior that should let you know they are unhappy, for some reason.
Treating a Cat Bite and Scratches
Even if a cat bite or scratch injury is only small and not too deep, it is still important to treat the injury to reduce the risk of infection. It is important to wash the wound with antibacterial soap immediately. You can also disinfect the wound with Betadine or peroxide if you have either of these to hand.
A cat bite is dangerous because the needle-like teeth carry bacteria which is pushed deep into the skin and tissues below. Even though the puncture wounds may appear small, they are likely to go deep and the bacteria can get trapped below the skin.
Bites can also cause bleeding, especially deep bite wounds. You can stop the bleeding by applying pressure with a clean pad and then covering the wound with a sterile bandage. You may also need to visit urgent care to get a course of oral antibiotics. Depending on whether or not you know the cat that has bitten you, a medical professional may also recommend receiving a tetanus shot and protection against rabies.
Treating a Cat Bite Infection
Cats carry a lot of bacteria in their mouths and this means that a cat bite is highly infectious. The deeper the puncture wound from a bite, the more likely it is that the wound will become infected.
If you have not received antibiotics immediately after receiving the bite, then you will need to look out for signs of the wound becoming infected. In most instances, the area surrounding the bite will become red, inflamed and painful to touch. You may also see a collection of fluid, blisters, and bumps surrounding the wound.
If the infection develops further without treatment, your health may worsen as you notice more symptoms that are not as localized. For example, you may have a general feeling of being unwell, you could develop a temperature, and you may feel weak. Furthermore, you may develop a headache and have swollen lymph nodes.
If you start to experience any of these symptoms, it is essential that you seek the advice of a medical professional immediately. In most instances, they will usually thoroughly clean the wound and prescribe a course of antibiotics.