Don’t Take Cat Bites Lightly

cat_bites

The information in this post is not a substitute for medical care. If you have been bitten by a cat, see your doctor or visit an urgent care facility. We cannot answer questions about whether your bite needs medical attention in the comments section. 

It can happen even with the most loving, docile cat: an overexcited cat nips her guardian while playing, or accidentally bites her guardian’s finger while accepting a treat. In more extreme cases, redirected aggression can cause a cat to lash out at her guardian and cause severe damage. And of course, most of us will pet stray cats we meet along the way, but not all seemingly friendly cats remain friendly after being approached by strangers. Regardless of how a cat bite happens, it is not something to take lightly.

Why cat bites can be dangerous

Cat bites only account for 10-15% of animal bites reported by emergency rooms, but they pose a much greater risk of infection. Cat bites create narrow, deep puncture wounds. Unlike other animal bites, which can tear flesh and even break bones, these deeper wounds are much harder to clean. Additionally, cats’ mouths carry a large number of bacteria which can cause serious infections in bite wounds. One of the more common is a highly pathogenic bacterium, Pasteurella multocida.

What to do immediately after a cat bite

Immediately wash the wound under running water. If the wound is bleeding, don’t stop blood flow; in fact, try to encourage bleeding by gently pressing the area around the wound. Bleeding may help flush out any bacteria that may have gotten into the wound. Don’t use harsh disinfectants or chemicals to clean the wound, as they may harm tissue and slow down healing. Arnica, a homeopathic remedy, can help prevent bruising, and Ledum can help prevent infection.

Seek medical attention

While some cat bites may heal without causing infection, it is recommended that you seek medical attention for all cat bites. A serious infection can develop 24-48 hours after being bitten. According to a Mayo Clinic review of records for 193 cat bite victims, 36 were immediately admitted to the hospital, where they stayed an average of three days. Another 154 were treated with oral antibiotics as outpatients, although 21 of them eventually had to be hospitalized. Complications included nerve involvement, abscesses and loss of joint mobility.

Signs of an infected cat bite

If you decide to delay medical care, watch closely for signs of infection. If you notice any redness, swelling, discharge from the wound, increasing pain, or difficulty moving the hand, seek emergency care.

Treatment of cat bites

Most cat bites are treated with antibiotics, with penicillin being the most commonly used drug.

Cat bites to the  hand can be especially dangerous, since tendon sheaths and joints are close to the surface in the hand and cat bites penetrate deeply. In severe cases, surgery may be required to clean out the infected areas. Cat bites can also lead to bone infection, and in extreme cases, septic shock, which is a life-threatening condition.

Your physician may also recommend a tetanus shot. If the cat who bit you was not current on his rabies vaccination, or was a stray with unknown vaccination status, you may need to undergo prophylactic treatment for rabies.

Cat bites are reportable

In most jurisdictions, physicians are required to report animal bites to the local health department. In almost all states, a cat that has bitten a human or another domestic animal must undergo a mandatory 10-day quarantine period. Some states allow this quarantine to be done in the cat’s home, others require that it will be carried out in an approved animal control facility. If the cat is healthy after 10 days, there is no risk to the person who was bitten.

How to prevent cat bites

Do not allow kittens and young cats to play with your hands. While the kitten grabbing at your hand and biting your fingers may be adorable, it won’t be so adorable anymore when he has grown into an adult cat. Use interactive toys to play with your cat instead.

Never try to separate cats who are fighting. If your cats get into a serious scuffle, use a blanket or sturdy piece of cardboard to try to separate them. Give them time to calm down before approaching them.

The information shared in this article is not a substitute for medical care. If you have been bitten by a cat, see your doctor or visit an urgent care facility. We cannot answer individual questions about whether your bite needs medical attention in the comments section. 

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226 Comments on Don’t Take Cat Bites Lightly

  1. Curgal
    July 1, 2019 at 4:12 am (5 months ago)

    Good news! The cat that bit me is still alive and my bite is starting to heal!

    Reply
  2. Curgal
    June 8, 2019 at 10:24 pm (6 months ago)

    About 2 days ago I got bit by a stray kitten that looked about 2 months. Only one of it’s teeth went into my skin and it hurt but didn’t bleed or have any redness or swelling. The pain went away about 4 hours after and the wound is starting to heal, but should I be worried about rabies?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      June 9, 2019 at 5:28 am (6 months ago)

      You could have been exposed to rabies – please contact your doctor or go to your nearest emergency room.

      Reply
    • mary
      August 14, 2019 at 4:02 am (3 months ago)

      Hey there. I got bitten by a domestic kitten and only one teeth punctured my skin too. However, mine did bleed a little. What happened to you after? I appreciate if you give an update.

      Reply
  3. Yui
    May 5, 2019 at 7:56 pm (7 months ago)

    My 2 Months Persian cat bite me 3 times just now and i immediately push my blood out until it stops bleeding. I don’t really know what to do i still haven’t apply anything but i already wash it. It hurts a little and i think its swelling but yeah it hurts.
    My kitten name Hummy bite me because my other cat Coby is attacking another cat inside our house. Coby is very aggressive that he will attack the cat. So he is at that state so my instinct is to move Hummy away from him because I’m afraid she might got hurt by coby so i touch her and of course she got panic and bite me but i still put her to my room. I put Coby at his cage before cleaning the bites and what i only do is push my blood out and wash it by soap it does hurt a little and it is pinkish I don’t really know because i rarely got hurt so i don’t know what do i do to it. I told my mom about it as soon but she told me to wash i got hurt about it because she doesn’t show much interest about me and the bites and just say it and of course she won’t make see me to doctor because last time i cat bitten by our stray cat Cutie and like what happen just now it the same back then my instinct to move the cat away from that place makes the cat panic and bite me that time what my mother did it put the blood out and soaked my hand to the warm water she did it everyday and i don’t know what she put in that water but it works maybe thats why she show no interest about me getting bitten by our new kitty but the problem is i don’t know what to do because Hummy is the 2 months old and surely the rabies is pretty strong which scares me. Please tell me what to do now

    Reply
  4. Jannah
    September 19, 2018 at 4:33 am (1 year ago)

    A couple months ago I was bitten by a kitten. It was all my fault, I tried to get it because it was so cute (yes I know it was q dumb move) and when I tried to carry him, he bit me. So my heart beating fast; scared I went inside my house. I put it my thumb in cold water and let blood out. The blood wasn’t bad but the bite hurt. After 5 minutes of me washing my thumb I put hydrogen peroxide on it. After that day, I didn’t notice any swelling, but on the bite was red. Not a lot but on the little points. Remember this is a kitten. I didn’t really notice anything after that. But a few days ago I hit my thumb on the wall. And it REALLY hurt. It was a weird sensation of pain. After that “sensation” I checked my thumb. I felt a bump on it and it hurt. I pinch it and felt that sensation of pain again. I told my mom and she just blew it off. (I didn’t tell her that I got but by a cat though) I didn’t tell her because she hates any type of animal. The cat that bit me was a stray and we named it pumpkin since he was mostly black, some white spot here and there, and some orange. My mom wants me to stop feeding that cats but I don’t want to. I know I should obey her but they depend on us. We have 5 every day cats that come to our house for food. Sky, she’s really friendly and loves to be pet, Violet, she would run away from is when she would see us from the window, but we domesticated her. Grumpy, he has a grumpy face obviously, he would run away if he saw us too, but now he’s gotten used to us and he wouldn’t run away anymore, but he doesn’t like to be pet. Pumpkin, the one who bit me. He’s not friendly at all. He would run away when we come out to give them food. He’d freak out if we tried to touch him. He didn’t come for a while, but when he came back he was so hungry. I brought out food as fast as I can because I knew when he started meowing and whining he was hungry; I put down the food and he started eating so fast. He even let me touch him! Last but not least, Oreo. He is mostly black but white in the chest/middle that’s why we called him oreo. I haven’t seen him in while, giving my hopes up that he’s alive. See they all depend on us, we gave them names, we even domesticated some. And we can’t just let them starve like that. They would starve to death too. I still have that bump, should I tell my mom that the cat bit me? but if I did then she would call the shelter. And should I secretly feed them? Please give me advice…this is killing me…

    Reply
    • Jayesh
      October 14, 2018 at 2:57 pm (1 year ago)

      Please tell your mom about that cat bite, and seek medical attention as soon as possible, please

      Reply
  5. Nagarjun Vinukonda
    July 28, 2018 at 1:38 pm (1 year ago)

    1 month ago a small stray cat bit me on thumb and scratched me on both my hands. I had many scratches which went bleeding including bite. Then, i started washing them with soap and i didnt took any T.T or other vaccinations. I consulted my family doctor in phone and she gave me this following prescription:

    “Cap Ampilox 500mg twice a day for 3 days
    Mupirocin ointment apply on scratches thrice a day for 3 days
    Tab Aceclofenac 100mg twice a day for 3 days”

    i had followed it only 2 days approximately and nothing happened to me. Even today, right now an Adult cat bit me at skin between thumb and index finger of left hand and i bleed very little and that cat seems healthy and i dont know whether its vaccinated or not, but i see it every day. i washed my hand immediately with soap and i am going to follow that prescription again from tomorrow morning…. and i dont think its going to affect me….

    Reply
  6. Ushna
    June 27, 2018 at 3:39 pm (1 year ago)

    About 2 days ago i came across to a homeless kitten (male) , adopted him today i gave him anbath so in this process he bit me on my finger but the blood didnt flow it just showed up secs inside my skin after few hrs the bite mark is not visible but still i fell my finder a bit stuffed.

    Reply
    • donna
      June 30, 2018 at 6:15 pm (1 year ago)

      First I want to say if you found a homeless cat it DOES need to visit the Vet for a round of vaccinations (including rabies, distemper, feline leukemia and feline HIV), and worm/parasite checks and treatments As to the bite, make sure you’ve cleaned the site with soap and water…Watch the site for swelling and redness and if any is present, or if soreness remains or you have trouble moving your hand or arm, head to a physician for further exams. Cats’ canines are needle sharp and the worst bacteria is in their mouths is Pasteurella, so you might need to have a round of antibiotics in the event there is infection present within the tissue. I am a seasoned cat owner for 30+ years and I’ve been bitten but never infected. My cats never go outdoors, either. Cats can be vicious animals at times, so you really have to know cat language in order to co-exist with them. Good luck to you!

      Reply
      • Rachelle
        July 26, 2018 at 12:45 pm (1 year ago)

        My 3 month old kitten (not yet vaccinated) bit me in my chin while trying to be affectionate. Unfortunately, it bleed a little (actually, it bleed after I pinched it) But it is 12am in the morning and the nearest health center in our area opens at 8am. I already washed it with soap and water. My cat never leaves the house. What should I do?

        Reply
        • Cav girl
          November 18, 2019 at 9:42 pm (4 days ago)

          I had a stray cat attack me because I picked up a kitten of hers . I got bit multiple times from both cats. I have bruising and and 3 areas bleed quite a bit. My thumb is swollen and numb.

          Reply
  7. Linda
    June 9, 2018 at 12:29 am (1 year ago)

    We have had a stray cat hanging around for a few months and put food out for it. When we first saw it, it was groomed and thought someone must own it but as time went on he got ratty. We were working on catching him to see if he is chipped. At first he was stand offish and we never approached him but lately he has been friendly and wanted petting. Suddenly tonight he bit me in the thigh and scratched me as I was just standing there. Also a couple scratches. Bit seemed pretty hard and already bruised. Really hurts. We cleaned it with Hydrogen peroxide, then put on neosporen then a bandage. Its about 9pm, so planning to hit urgent care in the morning just in case. Hopefully not waiting too long.

    Reply
    • Colleen
      June 14, 2018 at 11:31 pm (1 year ago)

      That exact thing just happened to me with a stray at the lake. He was sweet and friendly and we put food out behind our trailer because you can see all his ribs. We made a little bed under the boat trailer with box cut in half and a pillow and blanket so he could stay dry and warm. It’s been 14 days and nothing but a super sweet cat. Until tonight. I was sweeping the rug and he was curling around my legs like he does and all of a sudden he hissed scratched my leg and went to bite my ankle. It all happened so fast and I managed to whip my leg away before he sunk his teeth into the skin. I have a couple pretty good scratches but luckily not deep. Very little blood. So I cleaned it like u did. I’m at the lake so I will watch it but I now worry he has rabies. I have never seen a loveable cat turn like that. Very scary after reading how filthy their mouths are.
      I will look at it in the morning and if it looks any worse I guess I’ll be driving 3 hours home to see the doc.

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        June 15, 2018 at 5:40 am (1 year ago)

        You need to contact a physician or emergency room immediately, Colleen. You are at risk for rabies since you don’t know whether this cat was vaccinated. You may need to get the series of post exposure vaccinations: https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/medical_care/index.html

        Reply
    • Linda
      June 28, 2018 at 11:32 am (1 year ago)

      I did get a tetanus shot and antibiotics the next day. The doctor said they weren’t really concerned about rabies but to return if it didnt heal. It has healed. Animal control tried to catch it. They tried for 10 days and then stopped as they said they would only have watched it for that long. The next day my husband caught it and took it in. They were going to check for chip, but probably still put it down. That was sad but I was afraid to even go in my backyard.

      Reply
  8. kent
    March 4, 2018 at 8:48 am (2 years ago)

    i got bitten by a kitten (my thumb) 2 years ago but i didnt get any anti rabies shot am i still gonna be infected ? 🙁 please help im really scared now

    Reply
    • Lily
      June 12, 2018 at 4:00 am (1 year ago)

      same here… I got bitten by a kitten 1 year ago . ‘ pinch of blood came out and it healed quickly also.. I didnt got any rashes.. Or infection anything with it… Cause it healed i aint took any antibiotics ..

      Reply
    • Zoe
      March 14, 2019 at 1:28 pm (8 months ago)

      You probably don’t need to worry. The incubation period for rabies is usually only about 3 months. Though it is possible for the virus to stay dormant for years, it’s extremely rare. If you’re still really worried then go get vaccinated. It’s not too late as long as you don’t have any symptoms.

      Reply
  9. me
    December 26, 2017 at 8:30 am (2 years ago)

    HELP!!
    My three month old kitten bit my finger, it was like having a needle prick your index finger so I’m wonder whether I should worry about it or not. I did let the blood flow out and washed my finger after that but since I didnt have a antibiotics and alcohol, I used hot water instead. Should I go to the vet to check up on the bitten finger? I’ve read a lots of comments online saying cat bites are really serious but since my cat’s bite was like a needle pricking I was trying to not worry about it. Please give me advice!

    Reply
    • Kon
      January 26, 2018 at 9:51 am (2 years ago)

      So then what happened? Were the same so i wanna know

      Reply
  10. Liz
    November 27, 2017 at 12:14 am (2 years ago)

    I was bitten by an angry cat (pedigree of some kind, had a fancy collar and tags. ) Did not seek medical attention till a day after. Took round of meds
    directed by doctor. They ran out and wound still sore and very red. It’s Sunday so I have to wait till tomorrow to see a doctor. Any advice?

    Reply
    • harmonv
      December 11, 2017 at 11:41 am (2 years ago)

      I got bitten on Thanksgiving morning, ended up getting antibiotics on Friday morning–too late. Saturday I was admitted into the hospital, where I stayed for two days and received four rounds of intravenous antibiotics. Discharged on Sunday, by Monday morning my hand was swollen again. Had hand surgery on Tuesday to clean out the joint of my index finger. Don’t wait–go to the doctor. I love cats…but their mouths are filthy!

      Reply
  11. mona
    November 15, 2017 at 9:49 pm (2 years ago)

    last 3 days ago cat bites me lightly (-) just like that in my feet that time i was drunk i did not do any first aid isn’t it dangerous?

    Reply
  12. Chem shik
    September 27, 2017 at 10:32 pm (2 years ago)

    HELP!!
    My three month old kitten bit my finger, it was like having a needle prick your index finger so I’m wonder whether I should worry about it or not. I did let the blood flow out and washed my finger after that but since I didnt have a antibiotics and alcohol, I used hot water instead. Should I go to the vet to check up on the bitten finger? I’ve read a lots of comments online saying cat bites are really serious but since my cat’s bite was like a needle pricking I was trying to not worry about it. Please give me advice!

    Reply
  13. Angie@Angie's Recipes
    July 21, 2017 at 9:51 am (2 years ago)

    My two tom cats have been fighting off and on last months..I have no idea why…one minute they are the best pals in the world, the next minute they fight like hell..sometimes I can tell before they get into a fight, I separate or distract them…sometimes I am just not around..like days ago I was cleaning their toilette .and suddenly I heard all those hissing, crying and meowing..last week I was trying to separate their fight, I know I shouldn’t, but they are both senior cats, one is 14, and when he fights, his blase usually lose control and pee will be sprayed everywhere..and the situation just gets worse..anyway, I got all some serious scratches and my right hand was swollen next day..I used some some camomile cream and it helped..still I couldn’t use my hand for 2 days…and yesterday, another huge fight, my husband got some terrible scratches on his leg too…my question is why? They are with us for more than 10 years..and have always been good friends….and suddenly they just fight like they hate each other.

    Reply
    • Angie@Angie's Recipes
      July 21, 2017 at 10:04 am (2 years ago)

      p.s they are both indoor cats. The 14-year-old cat now even hissed at me and I am not allowed any more to hold him. He used to sleep next to me on the sofa every day. It’s so sad to see him so stressed.

      Reply
      • Angie@Angie's Recipes
        July 22, 2017 at 1:20 am (2 years ago)

        Thank you, Ingrid. Yesterday they fought again and 14-year-old just hissed when I put coco (10-year-old) outside on the balcony..but before the fight, they were sleeping together on the kitchen table and licked the same bowl clean…suddenly it happened again..sighs..now they sleep together again on the table…I am nervous 24/7. I will go read the recommended post.

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          July 22, 2017 at 5:32 am (2 years ago)

          Unfortunately, once this has happened, there are usually flare ups, and it becomes a never-ending cycle because the cats never get a chance to completely settle down. That’s why separating them and re-introducing them slowly over a period of days or even weeks is usually the best way to restore peace and harmony.

          Reply
      • Justin
        March 30, 2018 at 11:13 pm (2 years ago)

        Hi!! I just wanted to aek if I need medical attention when a stray cat just playfully bit you at the tummy.. its just try to gnaw my shirt.. bit its teeth happen to scratch on my skin it did not bled but its sore red just what a scratch is

        Reply
    • Fostermama808
      July 21, 2017 at 8:43 pm (2 years ago)

      Since they’ve been together so long and the one is acting strangely even toward you I would suggest you take that cat to a vet. The cat may be experiencing pain and lashing out because of it or maybe sick in some other way that can hopefully be treated. Please take your cat to a vet a soon as possible and that the vet check it out

      Reply
    • Nancy
      September 5, 2018 at 2:44 pm (1 year ago)

      I have read that older cats are kind of like people and can get a form of dementia. Not sure if is true or not….but my senior cat can just be the sweetest thing and then bite me!

      Reply
  14. KD
    July 18, 2017 at 1:00 pm (2 years ago)

    My indoor siamese has gotten outside a few times and this past occasion he was really worked up up and started attacking my arm. He is declawed but his teeth gave me painful scratches. On two of the scratches there is a bruise around the bite and they hurt to the touch. For the worst bite it still stings a lot. It happened about 4 days ago.

    Reply
    • Fostermama808
      July 21, 2017 at 8:54 pm (2 years ago)

      First of all you should never, ever declaw a cat. It’s like a human being’s fingernails been removed. It hurts them and can emotionally scar them. Secondly you should do everything in your power to not let that cat get out because it is defenseless and it’s only a matter of time until it gets killed because he cannot defend himself.
      With that said, if your sores are swollen you should see a doctor and get an antibiotic. If they are not swollen and just sore you can use a topical antibiotic.
      You should take your cat to a vet and let the vet determine if he needs medication which it sounds like he does to me. I have a feeling he’s going to need to be put on some sort of anti-anxiety medication given how he is lashing out at you. The damage may already be done and the medication may be his only option. If you can’t afford to do that or choose not to then please consider surrendering him so that another family can give him the care he needs. People can help themselves but animals cannot.

      Reply
  15. Jayden
    June 10, 2017 at 11:49 pm (2 years ago)

    What if i was holding a cat that didnt get their rabies shot and then accidentally put mY hand in my mouth i washed my mouth with water

    Reply
  16. Ann
    May 10, 2017 at 11:30 am (3 years ago)

    Hi there, I was bit by my indoor, fully vaccinated, cat about 4 weeks ago. He managed to get me on 3 separate areas, thumb, hand and between my pinky finger. I went to the emergency dept. immediately. I was given a strong oral anti biotic, a tetanus shot. The on call Dr. cleaned the sites with sailine and bandaged me up. 2 days later i was in a lot of pain and swelling. Went back to emerg. where they hooked me up to intravenous anti-biotics. Wounds have all healed but on all 3 sites I have a hard little bump. I curious to know what this is? will they go away with time??

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      May 10, 2017 at 1:53 pm (3 years ago)

      That sounds like it could be scar tissue – I’d get it checked out by your doctor if you’re concerned.

      Reply
    • Find any service
      May 13, 2017 at 3:35 pm (3 years ago)

      Considering you have the same thing at all sites I’d just wait it out about a week. I’m thinking it’s inflammation given that the infection have healed. I’ve had something similar but not every time. If still there after a few weeks then you should see a dr just to make sure and calm yourself. I’m sure they’ll disappear though. After my bites heal the skin on my fingers tend to peel because they were stretched so much from the swelling. It can take a couple + weeks for your fingers/thumb to return to normal. In fact I just this week finally lost the part of my nail where I had gotten bit on 2/27. All this time the bruise under my nail had stayed with me until now.

      Reply
    • Katrina
      May 20, 2017 at 3:34 pm (3 years ago)

      It’s scar tissue (keloid). It will decrease over time. You might always have a little scar there though. No biggy, unless you are a hand model. The lighter your skin is, the less noticeable the scar will be after a year or so. Welcome to cat ownership. I have a few permanent cat scratches, too. In the future, wash the site really well as soon as it happens. You can even clean it with a little peroxide (only at first don’t keep using peroxide). Then I use a little neosporin and I keep using it until the scratch is healed. Also, don’t play with your cat with your hands. They will think it’s ok to bite you, since that is how they play. Use a wand toy. Also, just leave them alone when they are grouchy. You really have to get to know when they are irritated or overstimulated. I just got bit by a neighborhood cat today. He/she was nervous, because my cats were in the window. I should have known not to move too suddenly around a nervous cat and I have had cats for years. Now I’m on the web trying to see if I really need a rabies shot or if I can just wing it. 🙂

      Reply
    • Joanne
      June 21, 2017 at 4:31 am (2 years ago)

      Try using castor oil compresses. Can apply heat over compress to increase blood flow. It will take some time but will gradually minimize.
      My cat bit me very hard on web part on my hand. My hand healed in 72 hours using naturopathic means. No one believes me but I have daily photographs to show progress.

      Reply
  17. D KESHAVRAJ
    April 23, 2017 at 10:54 pm (3 years ago)

    Hiii dis is Keshav

    Cat bitted me 3 days ago. Any redness and swallow is not appeared I didn’t went to doctor just I washed the wound with Dettol..
    I need u r suggestions .And what injection is used for cat bite

    Reply
  18. Lea
    April 20, 2017 at 7:27 am (3 years ago)

    I gotta preface that I love my cat dearly, she’s very affectionate and kinda trusts no one but me.. she was hard to handle but I refused to give up on her. Mostly indoors. She was mistreated as a kitten.. She is alot like a dog whenever I get upset or if I’m asleep and there’s a knock at the door, she instantly begins to growl.. always stands near me if I’m arguing with my friend about something. I leaned down for a kiss but pulled up too quick for her to nuzzle, it was feeding time and I shoulda known better… as I pulled up- she chomped. I was really sleepy too otherwise I think I would have been more careful.

    I have a small gash in my lower lip, its not in pain or sore or anything… but I have decided after a nap, I’ll take augmentin. I pulled an allnighter and can’t be bothered to find it. I cleaned it a little with rubbing alcohol. Washed out my mouth… I have to shower and get dressed later for my shift.. is the soap or toothpaste going to create a bad reaction??

    Reply
  19. Karen
    March 21, 2017 at 2:17 pm (3 years ago)

    I was recently attacked by my cat. Inside cat got out, I tried to bring him in. He attacked me three times causing 3 stitches in my wrist, severe bruises. It was extremely painful and still is after a week. Please I never thought in a million years this would happen. It did. I’m so devastated. Be careful. This is a very loving pet.

    Reply
  20. Donna
    February 27, 2017 at 7:41 am (3 years ago)

    I was bitten by one of my older rescue kittens today. He can be nice but when it comes down to it, he is feral. I trapped him at an early age but it still must’ve been too late He got my left thumb and my right forefinger while I was trying to give him worming medicine on his neck. I usually wear electrical gloves because it’s hard for them to bite through. I had to take them off to give him the medicine. He does not like to be cornered but he desperately needed that medicine.
    The bite in my right fore finger is definitely infected, as I’ve been bitten many times so I know. The redness is starting to go up my arm. I don’t have any antibiotics on me and I do not want to go to the ER. It’s 1:30 in the morning now and I guess I just want to make sure it’s OK that just go to bed. I’m tired and I just want to go to sleep. I have other medical issues and I’m just tired of doctors and the ER.
    I got bitten at around 12:30 in the afternoon. I put some Polysporin on it. I should at least live through that morning, right? I’m too tired and have to work in the morning so I do not want to spend it in the ER.

    Reply
    • Kayla marie
      March 20, 2017 at 5:06 am (3 years ago)

      Hi since you seem to know what your doing, should i go to the docter? My moms friends cat was scared of my dog and started getting really upset and scared so i reached in to help but she bit my ring finger on the front right next to my nail and on the back left side of my finger pad. The swelling is not too bad just my finger pad is swollen and is bruiseing. It still hurts i woke up 3 times in the night because of it hurting it happened about 12hrs ago. Should i wait until 24 hours to see if it goes away by then? Or should i go asap. (Btw i let my fingure bleed for a bit so it could flush out any bacteria and then my mom poured peroxide on it and then put neosporn on it).

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        March 20, 2017 at 1:03 pm (3 years ago)

        As metioned in the article, if you have been bitten by a cat, see your doctor or visit an urgent care facility. We cannot answer individual questions about whether your bite needs medical attention.

        Reply
      • Ingrid
        March 20, 2017 at 1:04 pm (3 years ago)

        As mentioned in the article, if you have been bitten by a cat, see your doctor or visit an urgent care facility. We cannot answer individual questions about whether your bite needs medical attention.

        Reply
      • Donna
        May 13, 2017 at 3:09 pm (3 years ago)

        Sorry I just saw this. Whenever there is a reaction to a cat bite, e.g., redness, swelling, pain, you should go to a dr as soon as possible so they can prescribe antibiotics. Even for me I will get antibiotics because it’s the only thing that will bring down the swelling, reduce the pain and take away the infection. I just didn’t want to go to the ER, which some doctors will do for more serious bites, because our ERs aren’t necessarily that great most of the time, unless of course you’re critical with something like heart issues. Last time I went was for dehydration, my dr sent me, and I was waiting so long and so cold that I told them I would wait outside and went outside in the sun and sat on a curb for awhile. All this while they were tending to a walk-in for what appeared to be a rash. I could barely even stand up but I guess it’s first come, first served 🙁

        Reply
    • Kayla marie
      March 20, 2017 at 8:05 pm (3 years ago)

      UPDATE: i just got home from the docter, luckily im 15 and i already had a tetanus shot. So they looked at my finger and gave me penicillin. Already feeling loads better! I had to get a xray of my hand. Hopefully there is no fracture. They did tell me that i could possibly have to have my blood drained out of my finger. They are sending me to a hand docter next week. Please go to the docter if you get bit it is so much better safe then sorry

      Reply
      • Kayla marie
        March 25, 2017 at 11:04 am (3 years ago)

        Update: I unfortunately had to get surgery. Ill let you know if i have any futher updates :/

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          March 25, 2017 at 11:56 am (3 years ago)

          I’m so sorry, Kayla. All my best for a quick recovery.

          Reply
        • Donna
          May 13, 2017 at 3:10 pm (3 years ago)

          what was the surgery for? what did they do?

          Reply
      • Kayla marie
        April 8, 2017 at 2:29 pm (3 years ago)

        im done with going to the hand doctor. they said that i dont have to go anymore :))) yayy

        Reply
    • Marcia
      May 12, 2017 at 11:57 pm (3 years ago)

      You should have immediate gone to the hospital. The redness going up your seem was the infection spreading. Same thing happened to me, I went within 24 hours and was admitted for 6 days

      Reply
  21. nath
    December 8, 2016 at 1:33 am (3 years ago)

    my cat nibbling my pointing finger then later my finger start a little ichy and when i look at it theres a red-ish mark and the other one, it looks like a mosquito bite but redder and only on my poiting finger she also nibbles my thumb but only my pointing finger have reaction . theres no bleeding no bite marks. is this is just a allergy or what (i dont have allergy to anything)

    Reply
  22. Benny Paul
    November 19, 2016 at 2:17 am (3 years ago)

    Hi I had bitten by a cat by around 11.30 will it cause rabbis. Which doctor should I go. Please reply me little fast.

    Reply
    • NB
      May 25, 2018 at 6:15 am (1 year ago)

      30 years ago i was bitten by a male cat in my hand. i took no rabies injection. my hand bleeds. but after some days it cured like a normal wound.

      Reply
  23. Blaire
    October 25, 2016 at 11:28 am (3 years ago)

    My cat bit me on the wrist, above one of the tendons leading to my thumb, last Monday evening because she’s scared of the new puppy and was in danger mode. When she bit me, my hand tingled similarly to how it feels when you hit your funny bone for about 30 seconds after she let go. The next day it was painful and red and swollen and obviously infected. I went to a Walgreens health clinic and they prescribed me 10 days of augmentin which I have been taking as directed. The infection appears to be gone and the wound is healing but I have developed some stiffness in my thumb and upwards toward my elbow. The area around the bite feels slightly desensitized. I’m concerned that she hit a nerve. Will it heal on its own after the the antibiotics are done or do I need to seek further medical attention? I’m not sure what else they will do since there’s no longer an obvious infection. I appreciate your input. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Sue Funcke
      October 27, 2016 at 4:44 pm (3 years ago)

      Well of you read my story below your post, I would suggest you see a doctor. If the teeth hit the tendon sheath, the bacteria is then trapped inside. I was on double intravenous antibiotics for 10 days and then orally fur a further three weeks. Don’t mess with cat bites.

      Reply
  24. Sue Funcke
    October 25, 2016 at 6:52 am (3 years ago)

    A month ago, my Siamese was sleeping on my lap, the kitten at my side. All was well for about 15 minutes when the Siamese launched herself at the kitten. I put my hand out to stop her and she bit right through the finger pad on my left middle finger. We squeezed it, ran it under water and put betadine on it. Next morning I went to get oral antibiotics as it was throbbing, within three hours of taking them my finger had swollen to the second knuckle and I went back to the doctor who admitted me for Intravenous antibiotics. Next morning it had tracked into my hand and I was taken for surgery as the area where she bit through had gone black. In total I had 4 surgeries, 2 procedures with morphine in the ward ( pretty gross) a week with a vacuum suction on my finger and a skin graft. I was in hospital for 3 weeks. I had the dressings off today and I need occupational therapy and a special protective dressing for my finger, oh and I still can’t bend the middle joint. So my advice to anyone with a cat bite, go straight away to hospital for treatment, I would hate anyone to go through this and I had it attended to within 12 hours of the bite.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 25, 2016 at 9:17 am (3 years ago)

      I’m so sorry you had to go through that, Sue, but thank you for sharing your story. All my best to you for a complete recovery!

      Reply
  25. Zoya cheema
    October 22, 2016 at 4:06 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi today a cat bite on my mother finger she quickly washed her hand in running water and then she took a tantnus vaccination from a physician later i gave her homeopathic medicine Arnica, her blood is too thin and she is diabetic paitent the wound area is swell and the bleeding is running i also made a bandage on her fingure can u plz suggest that is it harmfull for a diabetic patient? If it would not healed in 24..

    Reply
  26. King
    October 17, 2016 at 12:37 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi i have a son.. about 4 years old and our cat was with us about a year we got the cat since it was a kitten from our parents.. then i saw a 2 lightly.. dunno scratch or bite mark.. but when i asked my son he said the cat bit him.. but not that deep.. no sign of swollen or redness this past 2 days.. also have rinse with water and soap then cleaned it with agua and alcohol 2 times.. no signs of fever either do we still need to go to the doctor?.. also the wound is like gettin healed already.. please help.. it’s my first time to encounter this kind of bite

    Reply
    • Harry
      February 23, 2017 at 2:21 am (3 years ago)

      Hi. How is your son now? Did you see a doctor?
      The reason why I am asking is that I had a similar experience yesterday.
      Should I see a doctor?

      Reply
  27. Ingrid
    October 6, 2016 at 5:38 am (3 years ago)

    To everyone who has recently asked in a comment whether you need to go see a doctor after being bitten: go see a doctor. I am not a physician, and even if I were one, I couldn’t make that call based on your description of what happened to you and what your wound looks like. I can only reiterate the disclaimer at the top and bottom of this article. Thank you for understanding, and all my best to all of you!

    Reply
    • Sue Funcke
      October 25, 2016 at 6:56 am (3 years ago)

      Good response, even small cat bites can cause a serious problem. Please feel free to post my story that I just wrote to as many forums as possible. Sue

      Reply
    • Harry
      March 21, 2017 at 2:00 am (3 years ago)

      Yeah. I took vaccination. I am safe now.

      Reply
  28. Cherry Miranda
    October 6, 2016 at 5:09 am (3 years ago)

    Hello Ingrid,its my 5th day working in a new house ,their cat bite me on my left foot just above my ankle.I knew their cat have been vaccinated – but am worried do I need to see a doctor since I did already the first aid remedy like washing my foot with soap& water then clean it with alcohol ??

    Reply
  29. Snow
    October 5, 2016 at 7:56 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi, my cat bit me on my toe 3 days ago. It bled a bit and then it got red and swollen. It’s a bit less swollen today. Should I seek medical attention? My cat got his rabbies shot about 4 years ago.

    Reply
    • Marcia
      May 13, 2017 at 12:05 am (3 years ago)

      Rabies it’s not the problem. Cats have a get dangerous bacteria in their mouths that can cause serious medical problems. Cats teeth are like needles and the deeper the bite the deeper the bacteria gets into the area where you were bit. Hands need treatment immediately

      Reply
  30. Snow
    October 4, 2016 at 8:43 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi, my cat bit me on my toe 3 days ago. It bled a bit and then it got red and swollen. It’s a bit less swollen today. Should I seek medical attention? My cat got his rabbies shot about 4 years ago.

    Reply
  31. Steven P
    October 1, 2016 at 4:21 pm (3 years ago)

    Hello, I was bit by my cat who ive had for 18 years on my elbow. it left a fairly deep punture wound. this morning it doesnt look that infected just discharge from the wound and it feels a little painful, normal for a wound like that i assume. i dont have health insurance right now, do i need to see a doctor?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 2, 2016 at 5:28 am (3 years ago)

      A deep puncture wound that is painful could be infected and requires medical attention.

      Reply
    • Sharon
      October 4, 2016 at 7:02 pm (3 years ago)

      Yes you do. I was bit a month ago by a cat I was fostering and was put on antibiotics right away. It still hurts deep in my wrist. If you have discharge then it’s infected. Cats carry a large amount of bacteria in their mouths.

      Reply
      • Steve
        October 8, 2016 at 8:59 am (3 years ago)

        Well I seem to have gotten lucky, it looked infected for a few days now it’s a little tiny bit but it looks a lot better. I’m going down to the health insurance office next chance I get though that’s for sure lol. Thanks

        Reply
        • Steve
          October 11, 2016 at 6:32 pm (3 years ago)

          Update: I indeed did get lucky, the discharge went away and it stabbed up, same with my thumb no signs of infection from the start with the thumb tho. Either my cat is extremely clean or my immune system is a strong. Lol thanx helpful people 🙂

          Reply
  32. Joyce
    October 1, 2016 at 3:47 am (3 years ago)

    Hi i have been biten by a wild cat after 8 day my mum told me i ws suppose to go to hospital , i think i will go to hospital on Monday , this cat killed my chicken while other is left injured i think it will need antibiotics to .

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      October 1, 2016 at 5:25 am (3 years ago)

      Do not wait until Monday, Joyce. You are at risk for rabies and need to see a doctor immediately. You will most likely need to get the preventive vaccine series to protect you.

      Reply
  33. Debra humes
    September 25, 2016 at 4:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Took in a Siamese cat on sept 18. Got bit on my left hand on Tuesday and have been n the hospital ever since. Had surgery Thursday sept 22. Worst pain I’ve ever had.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 25, 2016 at 4:15 pm (3 years ago)

      I’m so sorry, Debra. All my best to you for a quick recovery.

      Reply
  34. Gilbert
    September 24, 2016 at 11:02 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi ! I’m feeding strays cats (mother and daughter) for like a month now and today when I was about to hold the mother it bit on my hand. It bled but the wound is not too deep. Should I worry ?

    Reply
    • Sharon
      October 4, 2016 at 7:06 pm (3 years ago)

      You need to see a doctor. Cats carry a large amount of bacteria in their mouth. I was bit a month ago by a feral I was fostering and got antibiotics right away. It still hurts deep in my wrist.

      Reply
  35. Orion
    September 22, 2016 at 6:42 pm (3 years ago)

    Greetings. I’ve recently adopted a stray cat wondering in the street and he was so cute. While feeding him, however, he accidentally bit my left hand’s point finger as he can’t balance himself the first time I saw him. (He’s okay now) I’m pretty paranoid about this because a day later, my RIGHT hand swelled up! There’s a cat scratch just below of it but it’s pretty far from the swollen part. Should I be concerned? I took an immunization vaccine from my school but I’m not sure if it can cure rabies or something…. Help? (I’m pretty new with this cat thing so I’m sorry if I sound stupid.)

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 23, 2016 at 9:57 am (3 years ago)

      You need to go see a doctor or go to an urgent care facility immediately, Orion.

      Reply
    • Crystal
      October 10, 2016 at 10:58 pm (3 years ago)

      Obviously this is probably something you’ve already dealt with. However, if you are bit in one area and swelling begins in another, it can mean that bacteria has caused an infection in the blood which has traveled to other parts of the body. This can be deadly.

      Reply
  36. aki
    September 9, 2016 at 9:51 am (3 years ago)

    Hi! So this happened today and I was feeding a stray cat. It was a new cat I saw in my neighbourhood so I was pretty happy haha. Anywho, after I fed it, seemed really hungry, it kept rubbing its body on my calf then i patted its back for awhile then it rubbed on me again then suddenly bit my calf. It left a somewhat burning sensation and I went home to wash it with soap. There was no blood but it did swelled abit like a normal sudden cut. It looks like a normal cut too except it swelled abit and has a somewhat burning sensation? Help ;;;

    Reply
    • Al Krauss
      September 10, 2016 at 1:18 am (3 years ago)

      Also “today”, I have a local cat “friend”, basically supported by a small group of families in a common property. This has been a long term connection (many months). Cat and I are so familiar with each other that we take too much for granted: cat was on a step, I was walking out of the house, and #1. cat stayed put, not believing it could be in danger #2. human (me) walked out without paying attention, and stepped down – you can guess! Right onto cat. The very first thing that happened was a horrendous cat shriek, and for me a sharp pain, as well as total shock at the sound and sensation. Cat disappeared, I looked down at the blood streaming out. Rinsed off, applied large bandaid, but only after checking out the internet (remembering something nasty about cat bites) did I drive to the emergency room a full six hours later. On Amoxiclav now. Cat seems ok but a little leery of me. No grudges, I don’t think, in either direction. A little more caution in the atmosphere!

      Reply
      • Ingrid
        September 10, 2016 at 5:43 am (3 years ago)

        I’m so sorry this happened to you, Al! I’m glad you got medical attention, and I hope the cat will forgive you eventually.

        Reply
  37. Alexandra Silva
    September 4, 2016 at 5:06 am (3 years ago)

    Hello 🙂 So this happened last year of January 2015,I know it’s already late but I’m curios. My cat bit me and it bled a lot, I’m aware about rabbis. And so then I only washed it with soap and alcohol and didn’t seek doctor consultation nor told my parents about it since I was scared and after that I just only wait until the scar completely heals and up until now nothing happens. Is there still anything I need to worry? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 4, 2016 at 5:43 am (3 years ago)

      The typical incubation period for rabies is three to eight weeks, but it can be as little as nine days or as long as several years in some rare cases. Please contact a doctor to get a definitive answer for your particular situation.

      Reply
  38. Kevin
    September 4, 2016 at 1:31 am (3 years ago)

    Hey, theres a stray cat thats been visiting my home for about 5 months I’ve pretty much been feeding him/her for 5 months and now its really comfortable with me and he/she lets me pet them, can i continue to pet him my two concerns are rabies and him/her bitting me. he’s very very friendly today I was petting him and he was very excited he was licking my finger and it was almost like nibbling on it should this be a concern. It’d be terribly sad for me to stop feeding him as he would just keep coming back and laying in my porch. what are the possibilities in your opinion of rabies?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 4, 2016 at 5:37 am (3 years ago)

      If this cat were to bite you, you would be at risk since you would have no way of knowing whether the cat ever had a rabies vaccine.

      Reply
  39. Hardy
    September 1, 2016 at 10:22 pm (3 years ago)

    Hallo Ingrid, my cat bit me in the back of my calf today. Blood was all over my bedroom, down the stairway and all the way into the bathroom. I rinsed and washed my leg in the sink, applied pressure to the veine and was able to stop the flow of blood, than applied provide. The two punctures were pretty deep and about 4″ apart, lower and upper jaw.
    I am ok with the wounds but wonder how to prevent this from happening in the future. The cat is 5 years old, mostly indoor but this cannot be accepted again. What should I do?

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 2, 2016 at 5:25 am (3 years ago)

      You need to go see a doctor, Hardy. Deep puncture wounds are at greater risk for infection.

      Not knowing what triggered the attack, this is only speculation, but it’s possible that your cat’s attack on you was the result of redirected aggression. She may have seen another cat outside. Here’s more information about redirected aggression: http://consciouscat.net/2012/03/12/redirected-aggression-when-good-cats-attack/ I recommend taking your cat to the vet for an evaluation, sometimes, sudden behavior changes can be an indicator of a medical issue.

      Reply
  40. Michelle
    September 1, 2016 at 11:51 am (3 years ago)

    Hello Ingrid, thank you for the helpful information. Tonight, I was cleaning my room, and was carrying some stuff in and out, my cat was on the door and am not sure if I stepped on her tail or what. She actually bite me, but I didn’t know that she did until I felt my right foot soaking wet and sticky. When I checked ot was all covered with blood. I washed it with water and a mild soap. So far the wound seemed ok, it felt normal and painless or to describe it better it feels just like a normal scratch. So fat the bitten part got swollen, but I have not noticed any discoloration, even red swelling. It appears normal, except the bump, and the bite mark it still bleeds every now and then but i’m feeling okay. I felt no numbing in the area. To be exact I was bitten around the ankle. I am just worried because of the fact that I have not brought my cat to the vet for rabies shots yet. She is a rescue by the way. I am planning to go to the hospital for anti rabies shots. I just wanted to know the symptoms if my cat has a rabies, and whay would the effect be to my cat? Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      September 1, 2016 at 5:19 pm (3 years ago)

      You need to go see a doctor, Michelle.

      Reply
  41. JD
    August 24, 2016 at 3:11 pm (3 years ago)

    Hi Ingrid – One of the five stray kittens (and her mum) that I’ve been feeding regularly for the past couple of months came in through my open kitchen window earlier this afternoon. When I walked into the kitchen to prepare lunch, the kitten freaked out and tried to escape the same way she got into the kitchen – through the same open window. She was quite terrified and panicking, hissing and her tail was all puffed up. In my naivete, I attempted to help her get to the open window by picking her up (or, attempting to pick her up). I was rewarded by her not only scratching my right hand, but also, she bit down hard – very hard to the point of it being punctured and bleeding – on my right index finger. I washed all the wounds (especially the bleeding puncture wound) thoroughly with ice cold water, then washed it gently with regular store-bought soap, and then wrapped it with a small bandage. After a few hours of it being bandaged and feeling swollen and sore and stiff all the while this afternoon, I removed the bandage. My finger looks only very slightly swollen, and the bite and scratch marks are visually quite small. What is worrying me, though, is that it is still sore and stiff and I’m in pain when I try to bend any of the joints of that finger. It feels very bruised, but, apart from only very slight redness, it is not black and blue, and only very slightly swollen where the bite happened. If it is infected, do you think it would be much more swollen or red or bruised after only a few hours? I would prefer not to have to go to my GP or emergency room, or, I shudder at the thought of it, having to go through a series of injections. Please advise (although I know I should’ve already gone to my GP, but I honestly didn’t think it would still be as painful and sore and stiff after a few hours).

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      August 25, 2016 at 5:48 am (3 years ago)

      You need to see a doctor or go to an urgent care facility asap if you haven’t already done so, JD. Bites to the finger and hand can be especially dangerous.

      Reply
      • JD
        August 25, 2016 at 2:48 pm (3 years ago)

        I took your sound advice, Ingrid, and have just returned from a long day at the hospital in the ER, via my local GP’s strong advice and a similar warning about the possible severity and complications from even a small bite from a feral or stray cat/kitten. Got a tetanus shot, x-rays taken, blood tests taken, and all came back okay. No nerve or tendon damage to the finger, and the kitten’s hard bite, although quite hard, thankfully didn’t go through to the actual bone. I’m on two antiobiotics now, for the potential infection (no infection as of yet, even though the finger is still quite swollen and tender and mobility is quite limited) and some OTC painkillers (Nurofen). Definitely a lesson learned for the next time, after this. If a stray kitten winds up in my kitchen, I will just stand back and let her make her own way back outside, without any intervention from me. I’m very lucky, I know. The kitten, in her severe panic, could’ve just as easily taken a bite out of my face or scratched my eyes. Thanks for your advice, and thanks very much for having this important topic on your blog/website.

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          August 25, 2016 at 5:00 pm (3 years ago)

          I’m glad you sought out medical attention, JD. All my best for a quick recovery!

          Reply

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