What to do when a cat bites you – avoiding infection

Yep, you read that right. What to do when a cat bites you. 

Cats are small, cute and fluffy. They like to sit in your lap and purr. Well some of them do.

I originally wrote this post in 2017 after a mishap during our cats vaccinations landed me in the minor injuries unit of the local hospital. I was genuinely surprised by the amount of treatment a small wound needed and wanted to share my experience. 
The blog I originally posted this on no longer exists so I chose to share here in the hope of helping someone avoid a nasty infection.
What happened? 
This is Izzy, she sadly passed away just before Christmas 2018.
She was a rescue cat, she came to us when she was 2 and passed away almost 9 years old.  
She was never particularly affectionate and she didn’t like being handled, at all. This made things like going to the vets and applying her monthly wormer difficult but up to this point I’d never come out of it with anything more than a few scratches. 
What should have been a routine vaccination appointment didn’t go at all to plan. It wasn’t our regular vet and after three attempts she didn’t get the injections done as Izzy was hissing, spitting and lashing out.
So as a last ditch attempt the vet decided to put a towel over Izzy, this I could understand but for some bizarre reason she also wanted it over her head. This did not end well . . . for me! 
Izzy flipped out like I’d never seen and sank her teeth into the nearest thing. My right hand, leaving a nice gash in my right thumb. Yep I’m right handed. Good times. 
The new vet scarpered and called in a more experienced vet that we knew, which was a good thing for me as the new vet knew exactly what to do.
I want to pass her advice on to hopefully help someone else: 
What to do if you’re bleeding: 
 
1. Get that thing under the tap
Running water is good for any wound, and when you think about what could be hiding in an animals mouth, running water is definitely the place to go.  
 
2. Encourage it to bleed
This is advice also given on the NHS website page about animal and human(?!) bites which you can visit HERE 
This is prevent any nasties from getting into your blood stream. If you’re already bleeding freely you don’t need to worry about this, move to the next step. 
 
3. Cover it and apply pressure
If you are bleeding quite heavily like I was use a clean gauze or sterile dressing to cover the wound and apply pressure. Try to keep it elevated, I held my hand at shoulder height until we arrived at the minor injuries. 
 
4. Seek medical help
It might seem silly as it may only look small but I was urged by the vets to go to A & E immediately. I phoned the minor injuries unit at the Royal Hallamshire hospital in Sheffield and was advised the nurses there could see me. Definitely worth doing if your town / city has a minor injuries as the wait time is usually much less than in A & E. 
I was seen within 30 minutes, a nurse checked the wound which in this time had soaked through the gauze applied by the vet. The nurse cleaned the wound for me and decided that she wasn’t going to stitch it due to the risk of infection she wanted to leave it open and covered it with a fresh dressing. 
 
5. Antibiotics
This is the part that surprised me! I was given two different types of antibiotics by the hospital free from prescription charges. This is standard for cat bites as cats mouths harbour some pretty grim stuff! 
I was given a leaflet by the vet listing all the scary bacteria that live in a cats mouth. I’ve stopped my other cat from licking my face as a result! 
I was given:
Doxycycline 2x 100mg as soon as I got home followed by 1x 100mg per day for 5 days 
Metronidazole 2x 200mg 3 times a day for 5 days 
I was given Metronizadole as I’m allergic to penecillin, the side effects were a bit grim but in the long run I was just so happy that the wound didn’t get infected I would happily put up with them again. 
 
Just a graze? 
 
Follow steps 1 and 2 above and then dry the wound gently and apply a plaster. 
 
Keep an eye out for infection: 
Even though I was given two lots of anti biotics I was told it may still get infected. 
Warning signs to look for:
– Redness and swelling around the wound
– Heat – the wound could get warm and more painful
– liquid or pus leaks from the wound
– a fever of 38C (100.4F) or above
– red streaks extending along the skin from the wound
 
Be prepared to change the dressing: 
Mine leaked something awful for the first three days, I was warned this might happen as it can take 48 hours for the antibiotics to get into your system and a little longer to kick in. Thankfully this dried up and my thumb, healed up nicely. 
Remember all the positive things about your kitty: 
After being bitten I was really upset, I didn’t want to be around Izzy and avoided her for a straight week. 
BUT 
* She was a rescue – we know she was feral for the early part of her life
* The vet put a towel over her head – I’d have freaked out too!
* She’d come a long way in 5 years
* There might be something wrong – whilst she’s never been particularly affectionate she’s never been violent. 
I’m left with a scar but thanks to the vets and the minor injuries unit I healed well and avoided an infection.
Thank you for reading if you enjoyed this post please follow me for more! 
Love & Hugs
Jenna 

xXx



All pictures are my own unless stated otherwise, not to be used elsewhere without express written consent. 

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11 comments

    • I was genuinely surprised! Since I was bitten I’ve looked into a little more and with cat bites the infection rate is high! Izzy used to love hunting, she would bring back all sorts so it make sense really. Thankfully our second cat tends to just bring home leaves haha

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I had to read that heading a couple of times to see if I was reading it right, I love it when posts grab my attention and yours certainly did! I’ve learnt something today…thank you!
    Mainy
    #KCACOLS

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  2. This is very interesting! I have never would have imagined worrying about a cat bite. I have had cats my whole life and I have never had this, just the regular scratches. Wow, what an experience this must have been for you! Very scary! It was very helpful to read your post and learn what you should do if this happens to you. I never thought you would need antibiotics either but after reading this, it makes lots of sense. I am glad to hear your wound healed very well and it wasn’t infected. Thanks so much for sharing this at #kcacols 🙂 xx

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    • Thank you so much. It was upsetting all round but we learned so much from it. The vet surgery even changed the way they saw Izzy from now on and it was fine from then on. I’ve got a scar but thanks to the vets it heard well xxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

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