No one ever expects a bite from the small, furry, four-legged animal like cats. Unlike dog’s German shepherd or Doberman pinscher, cats possess less intimidating features that make most adults and children less worried when they are going near them or vice versa, some people may even decide to adopt them.
Therefore, you must not forget that cats are born carnivore. It means their daily nourishment greatly depends on animal sources through the hunting activity. To support this activity, they are equipped with sharp teeth and retractable claws as cats’ special property that dogs do not own. Some experts even state that cats are better than dogs when it comes to chasing prey for food.
Given the properties that cats have, you may rethink and wonder if this adorable, likable animal can pose you a danger. Yes, they are eligible to inflict harm to your body. Most of them come from either cats’ teeth or nails. Rather than making a physical harm to your skin, the bite or scratch that cats produce works in a subtle way, through the infection that is spread by bacteria that nest between those hunting properties.
As what threats cat’s teeth can carry, the occurrences of the cat bite are relatively low. It is right below the dog bites that approximately affect 4.5 million people per year in the USA alone. While cat bites are responsible for 2-50% of cases relating animal-bites, women hold the highest chance of getting the bites from cats.
If a cat bites you and it turns out to be your own pet that has been given a vaccine, you may relieve. However, you may become a bit anxious if you are an adult who had forgotten his last vaccine shot. To make things worse, a stray cat suddenly bites you and you quickly perceive some strangeness in the cat’s appearance. Therefore, you have to be cautious and should take precautions. Here are ways to do when an adult is bitten by a stray cat.
1. Know the source
Right after the bite, the first thing you have to do is to learn the one who bites you. Cats, especially stray cats, would not attack a human unless they feel threatened. For instance, you may provoke a mother cat and make her bite you when you are trying to make any direct contact with her offspring. Approaching cats while they are eating is also a foolish idea. Cats are a lone hunter and they favor a solitary place to consume their food. Don’t ever interrupt their precious meal time or even take their food. Getting a bite for such a silly reason won’t do you any good.
Then what about a bite that is given by unprovoked stray cats? It’s very uncommon, yet it’s possible to happen. Unfortunately, the occasion of ‘cats bite people out of the blue’ may lead to the more serious issue between the one being bitten and the one who bites. If it happens that the stray cat who attack you have some noticeable signs such as an aggressive behavior, paralysis and tendency to bite; you should ask for an immediate help from a healthcare professional since it is likely that the cat suffers from rabies. In addition, you should call local animal control to secure the rabid cat and prevent it from targeting a next victim.
2. Take precautions
Unless you got your bite nearby a hospital, you should instantly take care of the bite wound before getting professional treatment. By taking immediate aid to your bite wound, you can prevent bacteria from developing the further infection. It is also important to identify the wound, as you need to know the range of the issue you are dealing with.
The first thing you have to do is cleansing the bite wound from any bacteria. Sterilize your hands first if you want to perform it on your own. This is necessary as they will make direct contact to your open wound.
You only need to wash your wound thoroughly using a soap under a warm running water to get rid of bacteria and dirt (you can use normal saline as an alternative to water and soap). Do it for three to five minutes and dry the wound using sterile cloth. Soaking your wound inside a container of water would not do the trick. Instead, you let the bacteria swim through the container.
If the bite makes holes instead of a bruise or a superficial wound and it is bleeding, apply a pressure on the area around the wound to excrete the blood that may carry bacteria from the cat’s teeth. Do it until the bleeding stop. If it turns out the bleeding won’t stop, contact your doctor immediately.
After washing the wound, you can clearly identify the harm caused by the stray cat to your skin. The severity of the wound can offer you equal interpretation of how far the damage inflicted by the stray cat and how high the chance of the infection.
- If the cat bite only leaves a bruise or a scratch, the damage hardly breaks the skin. Thus, the use of antibiotic isn’t necessary since the risk of the infection is low.
- If the bite makes cuts to the fat or muscle tissue, there is a moderate chance of infection. You can overcome this laceration with a deep cleaning and an antibiotic.
- A puncture wound has a greater risk to spread the infection since the wound produced by the tiny, sharp cat’s teeth deeply stick into the skin. Antibiotic is necessary in this case.
Apply prescribed antibiotics or natural ointment onto the wound (some antibiotic such as polysporin does not need any prescription). If the cat bite forms a puncture or is located on arms, legs or face, leave the wound open to avoid secondary infections unless there is demand for cosmetic reason or risk of infection is higher. Thus, the open wounds may need daily cleansing, while stitched wounds have to be clean and dry.
Although you are in a crisis from the bite of a stray cat, as an adult, you should conduct the methods above while keeping your calm. By doing so, you can optimize the prevention of infection and support the healing process.
3. Check for any symptom
If the attempts at preventing infection do not work or you don’t give enough attention to the wound, infection is possible to happen. The noticeable symptom of the infection are redness and swelling around the wound accompanied by an intense pain. Added to that, the wound does not give a significant healing progress.
Other diseases can also complicate the infection spread by cat bites. Rabies and tetanus are very common in this case and both of them are potentially fatal diseases.
As the saying before, you are likely to get rabies when a cat bites you for no reason. It is also provided by the noticeable symptoms in the cat that bites you. Whether they are pet or not, unvaccinated cats are prone to rabies. You should check any symptoms of high fever, difficulty swallowing and convulsion once the stray cat bites you.
You can avoid this disease if you had taken your tetanus shot in the last ten years. Yet if you forget the exact time of your last shot, you may need to take one. Therefore, you are likely to get tetanus when you feel stiffness between your jaw, neck and abdominal muscle. Moreover, you may have difficulty swallowing and painful body spasms.
4. When to go to a doctor
You better get immediate help once you are certain that the bite contains rabies or when you need vaccination. A deep puncture from cats’ teeth can spread infection inside your body. It develops within 12 to 48 hours if left untreated. The infected wound commonly becomes red, swollen and painful. In addition, you may get a fever, muscle weakness and numbness around the wound. A further aid is required if these symptoms appear.