“I’m allergic to cats,” I tell my boyfriend as he tries to pet one of our two cats on Valentine’s Day. He doesn’t believe me — after all, I don’t have an actual allergy to cats. But there is something else that makes him think twice about giving either of our cats affection: They both love biting people.
It was only a few years ago that the risk of being bit by a cat seemed remote enough for most people. It wasn’t until 2002 that doctors began warning of the dangers of getting scratched by a cat. Before then, even those who were allergic to cats could safely handle their pets with little worry. Nowadays, just like other allergies, cat-related skin conditions have become widespread.
According to the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA), nearly half of all adults in America report having some form of allergy to animals. These allergies often manifest themselves through sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes and rashes.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, many people actually prefer being scratched by a cat than poked at by a dog. In fact, according to a 2005 survey conducted by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), more than 60 percent of Americans would choose a scratch from a cat over a poke from a dog.
This attitude toward scratching has changed since dogs started becoming domesticated thousands of years ago. Dogs didn’t begin guarding homes from bears and wolves until much later than humans did. So why do these animals that haven’t been bred specifically for aggression tend to act so aggressively towards us?
In this article, you’ll learn more about the risks associated with cat bites, how to respond if your child gets attacked by a cat, and how to manage infections caused by a dog or cat bite.
What Are The Risks Of Cat Bites?
When a cat bites someone, it’s not out of spite. Cats will attack prey because they feel threatened. If your cat feels cornered, she might turn aggressive. Even if a cat isn’t afraid of you, she still may want to defend herself against perceived threats. For example, when a person approaches her litter box, she may also perceive it as a threat.
The reason cats use their claws instead of teeth when attacking is simple — it allows them to retract their claws quickly without making contact. When a cat uses its front paws to fight off another animal or human, it typically does so with quick, short stabs rather than heavy strikes. However, it’s possible for a cat to make deep puncture wounds using her claws. The deeper the wound, the greater chance there is that bacteria will enter the body.
Cats that live indoors are particularly prone to attacks from other pets. Some types of domestic cats have been known to attack certain kinds of birds, such as finches or sparrows. Other times, cats may get into fights with small wild rodents.
If you’re attacked by a cat, the first thing you should do is stop moving. Your attacker will probably try to escape by running away. Once you’ve stopped moving, however, your attacker may decide to give up and go find easier prey. That’s where you step in.
A cat that wants to continue fighting will likely move in closer toward your face or neck. She may also claw at your exposed flesh. You need to protect yourself from further injury. One way to do so is to cover your hands with long sleeves or gloves. Another option is to hold onto objects around you, which may help keep your assailant at bay. Holding a book is one way to do this, and holding a purse provides additional protection.
If you’re attacked by a cat, you may not remember immediately how you got injured. After the initial shock wears off, take a look at any open cuts on your skin. If you see blood coming from the cut, call emergency services right away.
After stopping the bleeding, apply antibiotic ointment to the area. You can buy products designed especially for this purpose at your local pharmacy or drug store. If you notice swelling, heat, redness or pain coming from the site, seek medical attention.
As mentioned before, cats rarely cause life-threatening injuries, but sometimes cats’ victims suffer more serious consequences than minor scrapes and bruises. Read on to find out how to react if you or a loved one is attacked by a cat.
People who spend time outdoors are at particular risk of being attacked by stray or feral cats. Stray cats are those that roam outside of home boundaries. Feral cats are wild animals living independently. Both groups are susceptible to rabies infection. Rabid cats spread disease via saliva, urine and feces, and exposure can occur during close encounters.
How To Treat A Child Who Is Attacked By A Cat?
Children under 12 are at the greatest risk of suffering severe injuries due to cat attacks. Children between the ages of 4 and 8 are most vulnerable. Young children often put their fingers in their ears while playing, and cats have been known to grab hold of young kids’ soft, tender ear tissue.
Even though less severe cases of cat bites may heal without treatment, it’s better to consult a doctor if a child experiences significant trauma from a recent cat encounter. Most health professionals advise parents to bring children to the hospital if they experience symptoms such as excessive nausea, vomiting, chest pains, difficulty breathing, bloody stools, persistent headaches, seizures, hallucinations or confusion.
Your pediatrician may refer patients to a specialist called a dermatologist, who specializes in treating skin problems. Dermatologists can prescribe topical creams that ease inflammation and itching caused by cat scratches. In extreme situations, they may administer oral medications to provide relief.
While the vast majority of cat owners know the importance of keeping their cats inside, it seems that many people aren’t aware of the potential danger posed by outdoor strays. On average, strays kill more than 300 people per year in the U.S., mostly elderly women.
Treating Infections From Dog Or Cat Bites
The most common type of infection linked to dog or cat bites is bacterial. Although rare, some strains of bacteria can lead to serious illness. Bacterial infections usually appear within three days of a bite. Signs include fever, chills, red streaks, swelling, drainage and pus.
Antibiotics can clear up mild bacterial infections, but severe ones require IV fluids. Antibiotics used to treat bacterial infections must be prescribed by a veterinarian.
Cellulitis, a potentially deadly form of bacterial infection, occurs when bacteria enter the skin. Cellulitis is characterized by warm, swollen areas covered in thickened blisters filled with fluid. Cellulitis requires immediate medical attention, and antibiotics are needed to combat it.
Furuncle treatments vary depending on the severity of the furuncle. Furuncles are painful sores that develop below the surface of the skin. Furuncles happen when hair follicles are infected by bacteria. Furuncles can range in size from pinheads to golf balls.
Dog and cat bites that involve punctures or lacerations pose the greatest risk of infection. Scratches, nicks and cuts are less likely to result in an infection.
To prevent infection, wash your wound thoroughly and keep it clean. Keep it dry and protected from sunburn. Always follow your vet’s orders regarding prescription drugs and herbal remedies.
Staphylococcus Aureus, commonly referred to as MRSA, is a strain of staph bacteria found mainly among hospitalized patients and intravenous drug users. Because MRSA spreads easily, hospitals and nursing homes have taken steps to reduce transmission rates. Symptoms of MRSA include abscesses, boils, carbuncles and cellulitis.MRSA is treated with antibiotics prescribed by a physician.
Animal Attacks – What Every Pet Owner Needs to Know
One of the primary concerns about owning a pet is whether or not it will ever hurt anyone. While it’s true that no pet intentionally hurts its owner, accidents do happen. As a result, it’s important for pet owners to understand exactly what happens when a pet injures someone.
Typically, the incident involves a pet grabbing hold of a finger, arm or leg. Pets that bite include dogs, cats, rabbits and mice. Sometimes, a pet will bite down hard enough to break skin. More seriously, a pet can cause a victim internal damage, including broken bones, punctured lungs, torn organs and damaged veins.
Pets injure people every day. Owners can minimize the chances of an accident occurring by exercising caution while handling pets. Don’t leave pets unsupervised. Make sure everyone in the household knows how to properly care for the animals.
Teach youngsters proper pet etiquette early on teach children never to playfully roughhouse with pets. Never tease or taunt pets. Owners should also be careful when interacting with unfamiliar animals. Be aware of changes