Cat Bites Can Be Dangerous, Too

Dog bite incidents often draw significant attention. Dogs are capable of mauling and even killing children and adults in brutal attacks. Compared to that, cat bites might seem like an unimportant occurrence. While certainly painful, a bite from a house cat cannot compare to the physical damage caused by a vicious dog. What many people fail to realize is that the bacteria in a cat’s mouth is such that up to 50 percent of cat bites become infected. Victims can be put in the hospital for days and can even die from the resulting infection.

Cat owners may not recognize the importance of keeping their pets confined and ensuring that no one is bitten by their pets. According to the head of the infectious-diseases division at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, many people underestimate the danger posed by a cat bite. Every significant cat bite requires medical attention.

If a bite has left a puncture wound and it is bleeding, the victim has likely been exposed to several microbes, including Pasteurella multocida. The vast majority of house cats are carriers of that particular bacterium. While dogs carry the same bacteria, the nature of their bites makes it less likely that a bite victim will develop an infection.

Dog bites are undeniably a more common problem. One study by the New York public health department identified cat bites as the cause of 13 percent of animal bite emergency room visits. That said, people need to recognize the danger of a cat bite. If you have been bitten, it is important to seek medical care immediately, before an infection is allowed to take hold.

Source: York Daily Record, “Why cat bites can be more dangerous than you think,” by Marie Joyce, 23 January 2013