How Serious Are Cat Bites?

July 15, 2021

We love our cats, but let’s face it—they can be a little finicky at times. Sometimes it only takes being petted the wrong way or picking them up when they want to be left alone to get bit. So, if you have been bitten by your favorite feline, is the bite a cause for concern?

It can be, and our AFC Urgent Care Farragut team explains why below.

What Should I Do If I’ve Been Bitten By My Cat?

If the bite has broken the skin, the first thing you should do is perform first aid on the wound.

Once you’ve performed the below-listed first aid, visit your doctor or our AFC center quickly. Even if the bite doesn’t look that deep, cat bites have a high risk of infection. Because cat teeth are sharper than dog teeth, they can penetrate very deeply, which can seed bacteria under your skin.

First-Aid Steps for Cat Bites

  • Stop the wound from bleeding by applying direct pressure with a clean, dry cloth.
  • Wash the wound. Use mild soap and warm, running water. Rinse the bite for three to five minutes.
  • Apply an antibacterial ointment to the wound. This may help reduce the risk for infection.
  • Put on a dry, sterile bandage.
  • If the bite is on the neck, head, face, hand, fingers or feet, visit our AFC center ASAP.

Where Is a Cat Bite the Most Concerning?

Believe it or not, a cat bite sustained on the hand is one of the most dangerous locations. In fact, one in three patients with such wounds had to be hospitalized, a Mayo Clinic study covering three years showed. Additionally, two-third of those hospitalized needed surgery!

Why the hand, you ask? Like we said earlier, cat teeth are sharp, and they can deeply penetrate the skin. Hands consist of many small joints and tendons, and cat bites to the hand can cause real problems because the bacteria from the teeth get into the tendon sheath or joints where they can grow with relative protection from the blood and immune system. This can make the bites tough to treat with normal antibiotics, and it also makes hand bites more susceptible to infection.

Signs of Cat Bite Infection

  • Redness or discoloration
  • Swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Warmth
  • A bump or blister where the bite wound is located

Have you been bitten? If so, don’t wait to visit our AFC Urgent Care Farragut center ASAP!

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