Nicole was working as a technical assistant in rural northern Alberta. She was helping get a catheter into a pretty frisky cat for surgery, there was a miscommunication between her and the technician, and she ended up getting bit in the finger. The bite went into the tendon of her finger and began to swell immediately. She began to feel nauseous; she was hot and cold and felt achy all over. If she had left it untreated, she would have lost her finger, and possibly her hand! 13 hours after she got bit she went into surgery. They took samples from her finger to do a bacterial culture test, and what usually grows in a few days grew in only a few hours. The doctor cut open her finger to relieve the swelling. Once the swelling went down, they sutured her finger back up. However, that wasn’t the end of the story for her, because the bacteria in a cat’s mouth is so dirty she had to get IV antibiotics and required a SECOND surgery because the swelling in her finger would not go down. She stayed in the hospital for five days, once she got out she had to go back to the hospital for two weeks and get IV antibiotics every day. Now not every cat but will do this, and every person will react differently to cat bites, but ALL cat bites should be taken seriously! Why are cat bites so dangerous? A cat can be very harmful because when they puncture your skin, their teeth barb under your skin and leave a very small opening for the bacteria to get out.
So what should you do if you get bit?
- Make the bite bleed, as weird as it sounds you want to make yourself bleed to help push all the bacteria out of the bite wound
- Wash very well with antibacterial soap or sea salt
- Take yourself to a walk-in clinic or hospital, and they will assess if you need antibiotics, it is important to take this step because you never know what will happen, it could take days or just minutes for your body to react to a bite.
If your pet gets bit by a feisty feline, you should take them in to see your vet, because cat bites can lead to abscesses, infections and many other things. The moral of this story is, you should take every bite seriously, no matter how small it may seem.
Written by: Qavah Tiede, ACA