Cat bites are serious



Note: This is a guest post from Apryl DeLancey who writes the blog Women Like Sports. Don’t forget to check out the photo gallery of Homey and Punchy at the end of this post.

I’ve had animals in my home since I can remember. As a child, we had many dog and cat companions. As I grew older there was an assortment of reptiles that lived with me at any given time. I had been bitten, scratched and chewed on by many different species by the time I was a teen. In my college days, I worked for an aquarium for nearly five years. During that time, I was also bitten, scratched, chewed, rammed, slapped, stung and everything else you can imagine by nearly everything that lives in water. I’ve been surfing and noticed a very large shark nearby that luckily for me had an unfortunate seal in its mouth. In the Cayman Islands, I was in 80 feet of water and stung on my wrist by something that made it swell immediately even at that depth.

Nothing I described sent me to the hospital. I had one visit to the school physician in college as a result of an animal interaction that only required an antibiotic. In other words, I have been very fortunate in the past.

Almost two years ago we took in two kittens that someone’s cat had decided to leave under our house. They grew to be rather small, each under nine pounds. Homey (named for where we found him) and Punchy (named for his preliminary jittery nature) have firmly made their place as members of the family. They are still a bit untrusting of humans but grace us with their presence at times they feel like they need attention.

Recently, we had contractors come to do some work on our floors. They have to go in and out so we have a very large crate (as in for our 120-pound dog) for Homey and Punchy to stay in while they are working. They quite like it and hang out in it with the door open on normal days. They are the type of cats that like to hide and sleep together in a little ball.

Punchy (orange tabby) was in the crate already, and I went to get Homey (solid black) out from under the entertainment center. I grabbed him with my left hand and then went to finish picking him up with my right when he bit the crap out of my arm. He bit me so hard I actually screamed! This only freaked him out more, and he locked his little jaws on my finger. I really screamed this time since he locked on like he meant it. I let go, and he took off and hid behind the washing machine. There were two puncture marks on my finger, and they would not stop bleeding. I wrapped the finger with gauze and tape and went back to get him from behind the washer. I calmly told him I was sorry if I hurt him, gently picked him up, and put him in the crate. I found out later that I did hurt him when my husband said Homey limped for the remainder of the day when he let him out of the crate later on.

Why didn’t I see him limping? Well, I went into my office and started to work. I could hear my vet in the back of my mind saying, “Cat bites are dangerous.” The bite occurred at about 8 a.m., and by noon my finger was swollen and very red. It felt like there was a tight ring on my finger that wouldn’t come off. The swelling was traveling down my hand as well. I felt a bit nauseated and had a funny taste in my mouth. I knew that I had to get treated because a serious infection was brewing.

I got to the emergency room at about 2 p.m. and the triage nurse put me on the “fast track.” I didn’t have to wait all that long, and before I knew it the nice ER doc was telling me I had to stay overnight. He had such a jovial bedside manner that I thought he was kidding at first. He wasn’t. I had to stay two nights as it turned out. They put me on the surgical floor and the nurses commented on how I was the healthiest looking patient there. Indeed, I was fine except for the terribly swollen hand.

I can’t tell you how much it hurt. I had to have very strong IV antibiotics every eight hours to get the infection out. The infection was traveling on both sides of my hand and got worse before it got better. Good thing I’m left-handed. I took my computer and managed to get some work done during my stay. I thought I would die of boredom otherwise. Thank goodness for free wireless Internet service at the hospital.

The moral of the story – please be careful with any animal, even your own. My kitty has all of his shots and there was no danger of rabies. The puncture was just so deep that the saliva got into my blood. Cat saliva has different bacteria than humans and therefore caused the issue. And no, I did not punish or drop-kick my cat. It was not his fault for getting scared and defending himself when he thought he was in danger. It just goes to show that even experienced animal people can be caught off guard!

Don’t be caught off guard. If a cat bites you, get yourself checked out immediately.

Apryl DeLancey is a Los Angeles native and sports fanatic who maintains a blog called “Women Like Sports.” Just about every sport you can think of is covered, so stop by for a visit sometime! Oh – and please, to paraphrase Bob Barker, don’t forget to spay and neuter your companion animals! Check out some of Apryl’s other That Mutt appearances, Freako on a leash and How do I know when my pet is sick?

Check out the photo gallery of Homey and Punchy.

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8 Readers Commented

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  1. Saint Lover on October 30, 2008

    Oh goodness.. that’s rough. Cats can really get ya. Glad the antibiotics did the trick and you are back to normal.

    Its scary to be caught off guard.

  2. Lindsay Stordahl Author on October 30, 2008

    Apryl, I have to ask, which animal SLAPPED you? Haha!

    Thanks for sharing your story with us. Sometimes I think experienced animal people are the most likely to get bit because we aren’t scared of anything. So your post was a good reminder for me to be careful.

  3. Marie on October 30, 2008

    I’ve been bit by cats on three occasions. (I know, I know, not a quick learner am I?) The first was a bite I got from a feral cat when I was working at the local county animal shelter. The other two were from my own cats, and like you say in your post, it doesn’t make any difference if it’s your own cats that are vaccinated or not, they can still get infected and be really painful. I hope you’re feeling better soon!

    Maries last blog post..Wordless Wednesday 10-29-08

  4. Mayra Calvani on October 30, 2008

    Thanks for this great post. Cat bites can be very dangerous indeed. I’ve never been bitten by a cat, but my vet has and she lost feeling permanently in her hand because of it. The cat bit right into the tendon between her thumb and index finger.

    Mayra Calvanis last blog post..Review of The Pillar of Light: The Legends of Milana, by A.L. Travis

  5. Apryl DeLancey on October 30, 2008

    Thank you for letting me post this Lindsay and thanks to everyone for the well wishes. I am back to 100% and, interestingly enough, this cat is nicer to me now. Maybe I am imagining it!

    I guess I should explain the SLAPPED. I didn’t realize how funny that sounded until you asked! When I worked for an aquarium in college I was often in the water with sick marine mammals. I was slapped by dolphin tail flukes and luckily not at full strength. I did see others get slapped with full force and get quite bruised and injured.

  6. Bonnie Story on November 29, 2008

    Cat bites are so bad. I had a few when I worked in an animal shelter. A cat’s “canine” tooth has a groove or slit up the side of it – check it out on your own cats and you’ll see it. When a cat bites, that groove allows the displaced blood and tissue of the victim to escape pressure, thereby allowing deeper penetration of the bite. OUCH!!! It’s a great tooth design. – Bonnie

  7. Lindsay Stordahl Author on November 29, 2008

    Yikes! Sounds like a snakebite. I’ll have to check out my cat’s teeth. I’ll try not to get bit in the process!

  8. Jyoti on March 1, 2009

    commenting usually isnt my thing, but ive spent an hour on the site, so thanks for the info

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