Last Updated on: October 5, 2016 by Ingrid King


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. 

227 Comments on Don’t Take Cat Bites Lightly

  1. 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?

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

      • A day ago i got bite by one of my domestic cats i was being irresponsible and stuck my thumb it her mouth when she yawed she bit me on my nail it was a small bite and did puncture my nail and a bit of the skin underneath it i let it bleed out and but rubbing alcohol on it this is dsy 2 its just a bit red and thats about it should i still be worried?

    • 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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…

  4. 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….

  5. 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.

    • 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!

      • 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?

        • 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.

  6. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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:

    • 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.

  7. 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

    • 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 ..

    • 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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?

    • 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!

  10. 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?

  11. 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!

  12. 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 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.

    • 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.

    • That sounds like redirected aggression, Angie. Your best bet is to separate the cats and slowly re-introduce them to each other as if they had never met. Here’s more information: You may also want to read through some of the comments. I’m so sorry this is happening, I know it’s very distressing.

      • 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 they sleep together again on the table…I am nervous 24/7. I will go read the recommended post.

        • 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.

      • 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

    • 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

    • 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!

  13. 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.

    • 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.

  14. 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

  15. 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??

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

    • 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.

    • 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. 🙂

    • 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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??

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

    • 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).

      • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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 🙁

    • 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

    • 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

  20. 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)

  21. 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.

    • 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.

  22. 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!

    • 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.

  23. 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.

    • 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!

  24. 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..

  25. 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

    • 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?

  26. 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!

  27. 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 ??

  28. 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.

    • 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

  29. 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.

  30. 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?

    • 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.

      • 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

        • 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 🙂

  31. 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 .

    • 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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 ?

    • 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.

  34. 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.)

    • 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.

  35. 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 ;;;

    • 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!

      • 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.

  36. 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!

    • 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.

  37. 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?

    • 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.

  38. 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?

    • 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: I recommend taking your cat to the vet for an evaluation, sometimes, sudden behavior changes can be an indicator of a medical issue.

  39. 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.

  40. 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).

    • 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.

      • 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.

  41. I was bitten by a stray kitten in my yard this past week. I let my two miniature pinschers got out to the yard to do potty. They spotted a stray kitten. Then all of a sudden my two miniature pinschers got a hold of the stray kitten & they wouldn’t let go of it. My husband commanded them to let go of the stray kitten. My female miniature pinscher had the stray kitten’s leg in her mouth but she let the stray kitten go. My male miniature pinscher had the stray kitten’s body in his mouth. Finally he let go the stray kitten & threw it up in the air. The stray kitten hit the concrete ground. I thought that it was either hurt or dead. So I grabbed the stray kitten with my right hand by the neck. I use my left had to hold it better so I can check it for any injuries. All of a sudden the stray kitten bite my left index finger. It just kept on bitting me harder & harder & it wouldn’t let go of my I left index finger. I was in so much pain & screaming from the stray kitten bitting me. Finally my husband came over to me & he had to spry open the stray’so kitten mouth because he just kept on bitting me even more harder. It took my husband about 5 minutes to get the stray kitten’so mouth opened. I cleaned my left index finger with warm water because it was bleeding. I used peroxide water, alcohol, and Neosporin & left my left index finger uncovered. My left index finger was so swollen & it hurted so much that I had to take an ibuprofen for the pain. I waited until the next day to see if my left indext finger swelling would go down but it just got worse. I had pain on my left arm. I made the decision to go to Ready Care to get it check out. The doctor told me that my left index finger looked infected & because my arm was hurting that he was going to prescribed some antibiotic for me to take for 20 days. The swelling went down. I just had a little pain on my left arm. Hopefully in a few days my left arm will stop hurting. I have never gotten bitten by a stray kitten but by my dog. It hurted more than when my dog had bitten me in the past. So from now on I won’t be picking up any stray kitten. I’m just glad that I didn’t wait too long to get medical care. I could had caught a serious infection or would had gotten very sick over the stray kitten bite.

  42. My cat Sapphire was a yellow tabby with blue eyes. He was playing rougher than usual one morning and sunk his teeth into the heel of my hand which is something he had never done before in the 4 years I’d kept him up to that point. This happened in 1997 before I had cable internet. I had no idea that a deep animal bite is a potentially life-threatening puncture wound or how to thoroughly disinfect it. At 6AM I washed it off using hydrogen peroxide, went to work, and forgot about it. About 12 hours later, I felt an unusual sensation when something brushed against my forearm. I rolled up my sleeve and saw a red line on my arm connected to the wound. I was curious to know more about it, but I felt fine and had no idea it was something serious. Fortunately I had access to United Health Care “Nurseline” through my work health insurance and I called immediately. I was told it was a lymphatic streak and advised to seek medical help right away. Soon I was at an ER on a cot with IV antibiotics having the wound surgically cleaned and getting my shots updated. They said the streak is a sign of serious infection which can lead to death from septic shock if left untreated. I never felt sick at all and I was fine the next day.
    Someone I know had a similar experience around the same time but didn’t get treatment as quickly and it created a serious disruption in his life for several years.
    A vet told me how to train a cat not to bite. Sapphire learned quickly and nothing else like that happened in the next 6 years.

  43. Got bitten yesterday on both hands, when catching my poor little dying baby girl to take her to the vet. She didn’t make it. 🙁

    It did not take a day for this to show up–the cellulitis started mere hours after I buried her, and I had to go to the emergency room. They gave me IV antibiotics, a scrip for amoxicillin, and a scrip for hydrocodone (the pain was that bad). I can’t move my right index finger very well. And I have to see a hand surgeon next week. If you are bitten on the hand, take it seriously!!

    But I’m not mad at my little girl. She was sick and scared and couldn’t help it. I put her toys in with her. <3 I miss her.

    • I’m so sorry about your baby, Mabel. What an awful day for you. My heart goes out to you. All my best for a quick recovery from the bite. I suspect that healing your heart will take longer. 🙁

  44. I am understanding just how serious a cat bite is. I got a severe bite on the lower leg 7 days ago. It’s still very swollen and I can’t walk or put any weight on it. Have to keep it elevated or its gets very painful. Just finished first week of antibiotics and dr started me on 7 more days worth. Amazed how long it is taking to heal and I’ve been to the doctor 3 times already.

    • I just have one question. What if your cat saw something freaked out and accidentally bit you and you cleaned it out almost immediately after the bite should you be ok?

      • I’ve got an idea. I’m gonna draw a circle around the wound and if redness starts spreading in or around the area I’ll call a my doctor and I really don’t want an infection again last time I had a bacterial pneumonia and it caused some bone complications like plurasy and I could not even lay down on my back and my body shifted itself to avoid pain will this get that bad again

          • I cleaned mine immediately and very thoroughly and started antibiotics the next day. I still got a bad infection and now 16 days later I am still on antibiotics and still on crutches due to swelling.

    • I rescued a stray kitten, seemed about 20-30 days old and i only had it for 2 days, the cat ate canned food but it bit me today and im worried because my finger swelled up and i got a litte white ball on top with pus, it hurts a lot and im mostly worried because the kitten just passed away today from what appears was fading cat syndrome but it could’ve been anything so im worried about this bite.. Any thoughts?

    • Since I got bit on my lower leg/ankle area and started treatment w/in 24 hrs, I’m curious as to how long the healing process took. Thanks so much!

  45. I think I may be allergic to cat saliva? My first cat bit my lip and I got a bump the next day. (Not aggressive, she was playing and got my lip). A few times it happened and I get a reaction on my lips everytime. A few days ago my other cat bit my lip as well. I got more bumps on my lips. Has that happened to you? They usually go away after a few days but what are they?

    • Cat allergies are primarily caused by the protein Fel d 1, which is found in the cat’s saliva, dander and urine, so it’s possible that you are allergic to your cat’s saliva.

  46. I have 3 kittens and while feeding them 30 minutes ago one of them bit me while trying to break a little fight between 2 of them and the smallest kitten “Oreo” bit and ripped a little bit skin on my finger. It’s not that deep and I have put a rubber band on my finger while trying to push the blood coming out. I just washed it with soap and its not bleeding that much should I be worried tho?

  47. I was giving a stray cat a bath in an attempt to keep him. He had fleas severely so I thought I could kill all the fleas and then take him to a vet on Monday for a complete workup, flea meds, vaccinations, and rabies. He tolerated the bath until about the 20 minute mark (I was really working the flea soap into his skin), and suddenly he bit my left forearm…and he went all the way in! There wasn’t a lot of blood coming out, so I’m assuming he missed my veins (??). He also scratched me in a few other places, deep scratch on shoulder, right forearm, and right elbow. He pretty much kicked my arse.

    I don’t want to go to the ER because the copay is 100 bucks. it’s 9:30 p.m. now, so I was thinking if it didn’t look good by tomorrow morning, I’d go to the walk-in clinic (which is 45 bucks…more money I don’t want to spend unless I really, really have to). This cat has been in a very clean gated community, but of course there are wild animals around, as we are backed up to a reserve.

    I had a tetanus shot about 10 years ago from a stray kitten (yeah, I don’t learn my lessons easily)…is it possible it could still be working? This cat looks pretty healthy, was just dirty and flea ridden. Thoughts?

    • Also, I do have a Z-pak, which is a very strong antibiotic. I could start taking that for infection, so I’m not worried about that. I’m more worried about rabies…and wondering how long a tetanus really lasts (some say 10 years, some say 5…).

    • You will probably need to get post-exposure rabies shots, so it’s imperative that you go see a doctor. The doctor can also answer your question about the tetanus shot and determine whether you need to be on antibiotics. Do not start taking antibiotics without a doctor’s direction.

      • Thank you, Ingrid. And the Z-pak was prescribed to me because I had a fever when I had my last checkup. My doc gave it to me to use in case I were getting sick. I went ahead and picked it up and saved it in case I needed it. 😉

        I have the cat quarantined and will be watching him for about 14 days. He seems okay today. He’s so sweet – he only bit because he was scared; probably never had a bath. I don’t want to take him to the Humane Society because I fear they will euthanize him and cut his head off to do a rabies check. Eeeeek! I’ll just take my chances… Thanks again!

        • Hi. I’m just curious how everything went for you? Did you end up with an infection or anything? How is the kitty? Did you keep him? I had a similar issue with a feral cat I’ve been feeding, he go scared and ending up nipping me.

          • Oh, sorry. Yes, all went well! I healed up pretty quick, too!

            And yes, I quarantined him for 14 days and since he looked fine and dandy, I’m keeping him! He lives in my garage. He loves it! He loves me, too! He sits with me, lets me hold him…sort of lets me kiss his head (lol) and even took his meds for me using the method the vet showed me. He’s a really nice cat…I just honestly think he was scared, hated the water, and had just taken too much of my crap and was fed up. haha Awesome cat…so glad I found him!

  48. I was bitten with my cat yesterday while giving him a bath.Maybe He’s not in his good mood to take it.I don’t know how old exactly this kitten is,but i think he’s less than 3mos.old maybe ‘coz he was just given to us and he still needs to be breastfeed.I should’ve been careful with my left hand while holding his body with my other hand.He suddenly grab a bite into my thumb.It counted a seconds before it bleeds.I poured the cut until the bleeding stops for almost a minute.I rinse it with water then wash it with antibacterial soap.I have a small cut in it and only have a small redness just around my small cut.I’m really curious to know if it’s a serious thing i have to deal with.I really need someone’s advice.But,I haven’t feel anything painful with this bite now.

  49. I was bit by a cat that we feed a stray there are five of them he bit me on my leg its sore and stings and has pine and is trying to get red I peroxide it but doesn’t seem to be helping at night it wants to bleed then doing the day when I work it just shoots pains out of it at times what should I do for it I don’t have no insurance so seeing a Dr is out

    • You need to go to a doctor immediately, Cindy. Red streaks are a sign that there may be a serious infection brewing.

    • I was looking for info on cat bites and saw your post. I was bitten on the hand. I’ve been to the ER twice, first for the bite, 2 days later for a reaction from the antibiotics. Please do not mess around with this! I hope you have been to the doctor. If not, look into a free clinic depending on how bad it is, go to the ER. They can not turn you away. When you get the bill give them a few dollars every month.

  50. I was attacked by my resident cat last very badly as a case of redirected aggression. I foster, and was doing a foster introduced to my resident cats (well after foster quarantine). Things went well and I was just about to put the foster away (listen to your intuition!) when I got a call. All heck broke loose. I should have ignored the call and put the foster away. I went to to see what happened and my cat looked like it was being electrocuted. I was attacked repeatedly until I was able to shove him in a room. It was traumatic and terrifying. I took a hot shower because I got sick of flushing the wounds indivually and then disinfected. But my hand and calf quickly swelled through the night, and I saw my primary. Got a booster for tetanus since I was over the 5 year mark and was immediately put on antibiotics. I had to go to a walk in clinic today because there was a lot of pus coming out of my calf. I made the mistake of squeezing it out- I thought it would be good to get all of it out. They said NOT to squeeze. My middle finger is still limited in movement and very painful. I think it will be a touch and go situation for the next several days. I was told only to keep the warm compresses going and to keep on the antibiotics and of course, to watch for any worsening symptoms. What an ordeal. I also was vague about the details due to bites being reportable. It was really my fault that I let the intro go on for too long. But I am surprised at the level of ferocity in the attack. He is as sweet as ever, but I will probably hold off on fostering flew cats for a while.

  51. My cat is a messy eater, and I was picking up a large lump of his canned food because sometimes he takes too big of a mouthful because he likes it so much, and some drops on the floor. He wanted the piece I was about to put back in his bowl, and took it from my fingers. His tooth (most likely his bottom canine tooth) punctured under the tip of my index finger. I immediately flushed it with hydrogen peroxide in the sink and ran it under water to bleed it out, and flushed it with hydrogen peroxide again. It is slightly tender just in the immediate area, and there is no discharge. It happened Sunday morning (Easter), and since nobody was open except the emergency room, I didn’t go. My cat is 15 years old, and an indoor only cat. I have had him since he was a kitten. I’m on mild antibiotics for rosacea, so some are in me at all times. Do I need to go to the doctor Monday (when I get up tomorrow)?

      • August 1st, 2014 I was bit on my right hand by my cat at 130 in the morning, I startled him when I went to pet him. Almost immediately I couldn’t move my hand and it swelled up quickly. At 730 in the morning I decided to go to the ER to see if he broke a bone-(I knew nothing about how severe and serious cat bites are). I thought he broke a little bone in the hand; painful but I could handle that. I had a work meeting at 1030 and was hoping to be out of the ER quickly. Within 30 minutes of being there, without telling me, they had set up a hand surgeon and arranged a hospital room reservation and ambulance to take me for immediate surgery. By 10am I couldn’t move my fingers, my physical reaction was streaming tears the pain was so severe. I was on antibiotics and demerol immediately. The center for disease control was advised, i had an infectious disease doctor, hand surgeon and MD involved. The first surgery was around 3. They cleaned out 2 tendon sheath’s that were punctured on my middle and ring finger. She left the incision open and didn’t stitch it up so that the wound could drain. The next day I spent on heavy antibiotics and pain meds. The third day i was informed that i was going in for another surgery to re-clean the tendons. At that point, she informed me that they would not stitch me up and that the healing process would be about 3 months. I asked if at all possible to please close the wound, I’m right handed and this was a major obstacle. She said she will see how it looked and make the determination during surgery. Luckily i came out of that surgery and she did stitch it closed “loosely”. I had a pic line for a 6 week antibiotic pump (luckily this was removed before discharge and i was able to take oral antibiotics for 6 weeks). The bacteria apparently is very aggressive and doubles about every 4 hours. The entire ordeal left me in hospital for 5 days, two surgeries, months of PT, and a major scar on my right hand. I actually wanted my cat removed from my house at least for a little while. Now, however, he is still part of the family, I make sure to pay close attention to his mood and keep my distance. I share this so people are encouraged to seek dr attention on their bites. While I feel I reacted within 8 hours of being bit. It was clear per the surgeon, i could have lost my hand. The bacteria is very dangerous. That’s why they are such great rat and mice patrols. Good luck to anyone who happens to get the clamp down by their sweet kitty.

        • Oh my goodness, CC, this is one of the worst stories I’ve ever heard with regards to a cat bite – but it goes to show just how dangerous these bites can be. You also address an aspect that is often ignored with severe bites like yours: the relationship between cat and human is affected as well.

  52. Hey I got bit by my male cat day before yesterday. He was having a fight with a stray cat and I tried to stop him by grabbing him he turned around and bit me thrice.. Well 2 bite marks don’t hurt or anything . but the one I got between my index finger and thumb has swelled up. There is no discharge . it was very deep though and I have difficulty moving my thumb and index finger but the swelling has decreased as compared to yesterday. I’m taking antibiotics. I do feel a bit of pain on my arm though.. Maybe its because my tissue got damaged? My cat is vaccinated.

    • I’m assuming you’ve been to a doctor since you’re taking antibiotics? Call your doctor and report your symptoms, he/she can advise you properly.

  53. Hi. I had a rabies vaccine 2 weeks ago after I was scratched by my cat, then now I was scratched again because I accidentally stepped on him. Do I still need to see a physician? or do I need to repeat the vaccine? Or will I be okay?

    • If you went through the entire series of post-exposure rabies treatment, you should not need to be vaccinated again, Cheska, but check with a physician to be sure. If you didn’t get all of the vaccines in the series (usually a series of four, given over a period of one month) you may not be protected.

  54. After being bit by my kitten yesterday, I read this article and I called my doctor, who told me to go to the ER for a tetanus shot and a round of antibiotics. The ER doctor said 80% of cat bites become infected.

    BUT IF YOU LOVE YOUR CAT DO NOT TELL THEM IT WAS YOUR CAT!!!! My kitten is 3 months old, he was only playing. But the ER with no notice immediately called animal control. (I am in Texas). Animal Control called my ER room and insisted on immediately taking my kitten for a 10 day quarantine. They would not let me quarantine him in my home, my kitten has never been outside or around any other animals.
    They refused any other option. They put your pet in a tiny cage for 10 days with no contact (in case it has rabies). I can’t even imagine how damaging this is to many pets psyche.

    Animal control is law enforcement, you are given no option, they will come to your home and literally take the animal.

    This law is absurd, inhumane and will only cause people to not be honest or seek treatment.

    I sure wish I had known this before going to the ER.

    • My heart goes out to you – I can’t even imagine how distressing this is for you. Animal bites are reportable, but jurisdictions vary in how they interpret and apply quarantine laws. In many cases, they only require in home quarantine. I’m so very sorry this was not an option for you and your kitten.

  55. I was bitten this morning by a panicked stray that visits my backyard often. It was definitely a hard and painful bite, but I washed my hand thoroughly and let is sit under the water for a while. I put some triple antibiotic stuff on the wounds (there are about 5 puncture wounds, plus a few minor scratches) and bandaged them and went to work.

    One puncture in particular is between my first and middle finger and it has become very sore (a little like the feeling of a bruise, but with no bruising discoloration) and the finger is a little stiff.

    Should I tell my boss I need to go to the doctor? I know infection is not something to play around with, but physical trauma to a body part usually results in residual soreness and/or bruising, so I’m unsure if I’m overreacting (or underreacting, as the case may be). My hand is not red, there is maybe a little swelling from the trauma, but no other signs of infection.

    • I would go see a doctor to be on the safe side, Holly. Bites to the hand can be particularly dangerous.

  56. I have cats who like to play a little rough at times and really really hate the vets! – my hands are covered in scratches which end up staying as scars….
    I now use the Dr Max Powers Scar Serum twice a day for just short of a week, I have noticed the smaller scars on my hands have started to fade (they aren’t noticeable to others, but as I know where they are I can still just see them). Its certainly a product that I am going to keep using.

  57. My kitty tore my hands and wrists up when I gave her a bath last Friday. Most of them aren’t too deep, just little scratches from her teeth (although they do still hurt haha), but there’s this bite on my wrist that really went deep. There are four little marks, one for each of her teeth, but really only two are deep punctures. I did my best to clean them but the area around the two deepest marks is red and swollen, and there’s some discharge from them. Should I be worried or should I just keep an eye on them? She’s up to date on shots.

      • Doesn’t infection usually go away on it’s own with peroxide and antibacterial ointment? It doesn’t hurt as much anymore, and I’m not feeling ill. Isn’t it only serious if I get a fever or feel sick?

        • Cat bites can lead to very serious infections if not treated, Grace. It’s not worth taking chances.

  58. My cat Chester bit me on the chin this morning. As I woke up, he was sitting on my chest and when I attempted to move him, he reached out and nipped me. Not really a puncture wound, more of a shallow scrape. I was more surprised than anything else – I think he was too. Having read about how cat bites can get easily infected a few months ago, I let it bleed a bit and then washed it thoroughly with an antimicrobial soap called Zylast (great stuff – it was developed to kill things like ebola and has a 6-hour residual effect). Anyway, the washing made it bleed even more, which I figure is a good thing since if blood is coming out, nasty things can’t go in. I then put pressure on the wound until it stopped bleeding and then covered it with Zylast lotion (I don’t work for Zylast, but the products they make are fantastic and I like to get the word out) and then covered it with a bandage. I just changed the bandage (6 hours later) and you can now hardly tell there was any damage. I’ll keep an eye on it, but I think I got lucky (I called my doctor and she said she wouldn’t have recommended doing anything different than I did). When I was younger, I used to interact with strange cats on the street but I don’t anymore. They can be unpredictable and having to go to the Emergency Room (or spend a few days in the hospital) just because you wanted to give a kitty some ear rubs is a major bummer. Remember, one if the things that makes cats interesting is that they’ve never become fully domesticated. There’s still a little tiger left in even the most sedate housecat. I was ok treating myself, but if you get an actual puncture wound from a bite, I would err on the side of caution and go see a doctor.

  59. I been bitten by a cat last feb. 11 2016 and i been vaccinated pcec and hrig this last feb. 18 2016. This morning i go to the hospital to take my 2nd shot of pcec and i go back this friday to take 3rd shot of pcec. but the cat is still alive 11 day after i bitten.

    • For readers who may not be familiar with the terms you use, PCEC stands for Purified Chick Embryo Cell, and HRIG stands for Human Rabies Immunoglobulin. Both are used in the post-exposure treatment protocol if someone has been bitten by a cat who is not current on his/her rabies vaccine.

  60. My cat tends to bite whenever she doesn’t like something. Though is a real sweet heart other times. We never think too much of it when she does, since she is fully vaccinated. We just wash it off and continue on with our days. Have never had a problem with any of her bites.

    Last night she bit the inside of my hand while I was trying to clean the fur on her back end. I finished cleaning her and washed it off as usual. Only starting around noon today my hand and forearm have started to ache.

    It can’t possible be related can it? I mean she bit about where the hand meets the wrist under the pinky finger, and its sore on the thumb side all the way up to my elbow. There is also no redness or swelling that I can see. Coincidence right?

  61. My furry female bit me while i was bathing her. She wouldn’t let go until my husband got her off me! She has fleas and is declawed on her front paws only. I can’t clip her back claws because her feet are very fluffy. I’m on blood-thinners, so i bruise easily. I’ll see my GP tomorrow! Polysporin for now!

      • In most jurisdictions, animal bites are reportable. If the animal that bit the person is an owned pet, animal control will verify that the pet is current on its rabies vaccination. Requirements will vary in different jurisdictions. In most cases, if a pet is current on its vaccines, he/she will need to be quarantined in the pet’s home, and may require a rabies booster vaccine.

  62. Yes, i have been badly bitten by my mums cat, she was a bit of a nightmare, it jumped up after I stroked her and was hanging from my hand with its claws and teeth.

    I just washed it nothing more. I love cats.

  63. My cat bit me few days ago, and there was 1 wound that was bleeding and hurt. Of course later it swelled and got red. The very first day, I went to see the doc later that night, and he gave me both oral and gel antibiotics. The second day the pain and swelling got worse. But the 3rd day (today) the pain is mostly kind of gone, but the red and swelling remains the same.

    Should I be worried about the red and swelling? I’ve never had any experience in this area, so I wouldn’t know about how the treatment goes, time-wise. I will post update regarding the condition of the bite wound.

      • I forgot to add a little detail, that is he bit my left foot. And up until today I haven’t felt any fever, so I may be going out on a limb and say that my infection isn’t that bad.

        Thanks for your response and article, Ingrid! I found it very helpful, especially to those who are new to this matter.

        That being said, I will contact my physician. Thanks again.

  64. Hi I was feeding the other rescued kitten and the other rescued kitten bite me
    1 I let my wond bleed in order to spell some blood out
    2 I wash my hands
    3 I cure my finger with the first aid
    The wound did not go deep in my bones but only in my skin should I need to go to the doctor

      • Hi, my husband got a kitten for our baby girl for Christmas. He loves to play bite we discourage it especially since our little girl is just barely 4 months old my arm is covered in bites because kitty loves to try “play” during baby’s feeding time and tries to bite her so I use my arm to protect her. I wash my arm but it burns after every bite but no swelling. I just wish he would stop biting altogether.

        • What you’re seeing is play aggression, Nichole. Here’s why it happens and how to stop it:

  65. 2 days ago my kitten (rescued) bit my thumb and I got it seen to by a nurse at the g.p’s, but now my index finger has swelled up from the first knuckle (on fist) to the second knuckle (in line with top of thumb). It has also bruised along the whole length of the finger.

    • Call your GP’s office immediately, Heather. If they’re closed for the weekend, visit an urgent care or ER. It sounds like the infection has spread from the site of the bite.

  66. Hi Ingrid,

    Yesterday my room mate’s pet cat bit me on the wrist of my right arm, but I did not not see any swellings or wounds or breaking of the skin. I’m not 100% sure if it bit me or not, but I could feel its teeth in contact with my wrist. Just occasional on and off pain around that area. Do you still recommend me to go to the physician?

  67. all good advice and discussion. I have been bitten. Once needed antibiotics and other times pushed plenty of blood through the wound and ran cold water to encourage blood flow. Always feel sorry for cats in the shelter isolated due to someone getting a bite. Often the human does not pay attention to the signals from the cat to stop petting, handling etc. Declawed cats are much more likely to be bitters in my experience. It is all they have for self defense. Too bad the bites are not inflicted on the humans who declawed them!!
    Thanks for your help.

    • Was bitten by a stray cat at my grandparents house yesterday, pretty good nip: top canine in “ball” of thumb, lower canine in same spot, top of hand…extreme pain. Bleeding, bruised, swelling. Luckily he didn’t get all 4 in!! Luckily, or not so (?), stepped on a rusty nail a month ago, so have a recent tetanus shot, and a full run of antibiotics that I didn’t take for it…called urgent care, was told to wash, ointment, bandage (had already) and take the antibiotics…swelling has already reduced, no redness at all (no striations up arm)…still extremely painful. 🙁 This cat has never bitten before and was totally unexpected at this point. **Lesson learned: Don’t mistake a meowing, rubbing, friendly cat…they can turn on a dime!!! **Note: I own 2 cats

  68. My first (!) serious cat bite was about 1980. Our Siamese cat had escaped the house and was starting a fight with another cat. I interfered, tried to pick him up, was bitten on my right hand. Cleaned it under running water, my husband-to-be drove me to Emergency where they cleaned it and gave me a shot. I couldn’t drive to work for a couple of days, it was so painful.
    The second time, I was petting a neighbor’s cat, and when I was done I turned away but he lunged at my leg and bit me. I washed it but did not go to Emergency. Instead, the next day I went to a homeopathic dr. who gave me some remedies. Well, it was too late to do that, it was already getting infected and I ended up getting antibiotics, which made me so sick that I had to take the ambulance to Emergency. They kept me in the hospital a couple of days, I think it was. I had cellulitis, and when I got home I could only crawl out of my bed, it was so painful to walk. I had to hire people to come help me with meals etc. I soaked the ankle in warm water, and went to my doctor’s office to have her drain the wound every day for about a week.
    The third (and I hope LAST) time, my own cat bit me when I inadvertently hurt her when I picked her up when she was acting unwell and lethargic–it turned out SHE had an abscess from a cat bite, and I accidently pressed on it. Ordinarily she is a gentle cat! I went to the NP who was taking over my MD’s practice,got antibiotics. They didn’t work; my hand did not get better. Worse, in fact. Fortunately the MD came into the office that day, I showed it to her as we passed in the hallway, and she said they were the wrong antibiotics! And told me that unless I wanted a “retreat” time in the hospital, I’d better have a retreat at home and spend the weekend with my arm elevated, with warm compresses, and take the right antibiotics. Which I did. She was the same MD who had treated me for the previous bite, so she knew my history. This time, the infection resolved without further treatment.
    I hope I never get another cat bite again!!

  69. Last December my 17 years old beautiful cat, Ursula, bit me on the left arm, above the elbow. The next day I woke up with a very swollen red arm, and it was very painful. I went to the dermatologist, who prescribed antibiotics and sent me home. But a couple of hours later, the swollen had tripled and couldn’t move my arm. I went to the ER and was hospitalized for 3 days, getting IV antibiotics every 8 hours, in addition of a tetanus shot. I have had cats all my life, and had been bitten countless times, but this was the first time it got infected, and was really bad, hahaha!!!
    Now I’m more careful, but I still spoil Ursula, she can do whatever she wants with me, she has for 17 years and I won’t make her stop now!

  70. I’ve been bitten a few times over the years, but the worst was about 13-14 years ago. My hubby was an otr trucker and one of our cats, Trip, took it upon himself to be my protector and would keep watch out the bedroom window while I slept. He woke me up one early morning yowling at a stray in the back yard. I sat up to calm him and when I reached for him he lashed out and got me on the forearm. He actually bit twice because I had 8 punctures. I had a hard time getting him to let go of me. I got out of bed and washed it the best I could and tried to go back to sleep. I did go to work the next morning but it was so painful, I ended up leaving early and going to urgent care. By the time I got there (about 12 hours after the bite) I had a fever. They sent me home with strong antibiotics and I healed up well. But I know now not to wait so long.

    Our most recent rescue, Beemer, came to us very food aggressive. He is better now, but it took me a while to learn not to grab anything away from him. He got me pretty good on the hand one day when I tried to take a leaf of lettuce away from him. Luckily, that one didn’t get infected.

  71. i get bit all the time by my cats ( at least 2-3 times a week) they love to play bite i always clean it thoroughly and it gets a little red then goes away( same goes for scratches) i always keep an eye out when i do get bit ( my cats are all vaccinated ) nothing has ever gotten dangerous

    • You’ve been lucky so far, Wendy. Play biting is a form of aggression, and it’s a good idea to nip the behavior in the bud. Here’s more information:

  72. I was bitten by my cat a couple years ago. The bite was a hard bite on my calf, deep punctures. Within 24 hours I was in the hospital with dangerously low blood pressure and fever. The doctor found out it was pasteurella and because my immune system is compromised by rheumatoid arthritis, I was hit very hard with infection.
    Fortunately I am fine now and my cat is still with me, but I have come to realize I am not going to make Ike a cuddly kitty. I let him tell me when he wants to be petted. This article is very informative and I hope everyone takes it seriously. Cats rule!

    • May i know how many years because i was bit 8 years ago but i already give birth 3 times after and doctors did not find me related infection

  73. I also feed the ferals in my neighborhood! Before I found help with TVNR for them, one of the males bit between my wrist and elbow, closer to the wrist. I knew he was not vaccinated, being a stray and he bit me while I was putting the food bowl down…I guess he was hungry and I wasn’t moving fast enough! When he bit me, I did not try to put away because I know it would have resulted in tearing and he knew he made a mistake as soon as he did it because he looked right into my eyes and let go, then went to eating the food! I immediately washed the wound with warm water and wrapped it in gauze and tape and went right to the ER. By the time I got there, the gauze and tape were soaking with blood! They washed it, soaked it, gave me tetanus and penicillin shot, as wel as the first rabies shot, wrapped it and sent me home with instructions to come back in 3 days for another rabies shot and to have them check the wound. When I went back, I felt fine, but was running a mild fever I did not even realize I had! The doctor said, “I hate cat bites!” I said, “Why?” He said because in 90% of cat bites land up having to be admitted for IV antibiotic treatment! I apparently needed to be admitted for that treatment because of the pasturella infection. I spent about 48 hours in the hospital after the ER and then had to go back two or three more times for the rabies shots because the hospital said that doctor’s offices do not carry rabies vaccines. I had to give a description of the cat, who still came for food for about a month. After that, he disappeared, so I imagine that they trapped him and put him down because he bit me and was aggressive, although he showed no signs of any illness whatsoever in that month! I’m actually sorry that the whole thing happened! I was new to feral cats and didn’t know not to put the food down if they are right there! You live and learn! I am still feeding 8 ferals now, plus one adopted me and came in and one I am fostering. The two inside cats are lovable, love petting, rub me, give me kisses, but still don’t like to be picked up! I have been petting, talking to, etc. the kittens since the were about 6 weeks old, but the adults still scatter if I move too fast! That’s a total of 10! I have not been bitten since, but I learned more about ferals from Feral Friends and had all 10 TVNR’d so they are not aggressive anymore! I just learned to be more careful! I’m just sorry that Sunshine probably lost his life because of a mistake! I take comfort in the fact that the kittens are most likely his because the have his markings and now there will be no more kittens in this colony, they are fed, their health monitored and seen by a vet yearly or more if needed, they have shelter from the elements and two are now inside kitties! As soon as the one can be held for a bit, she can get her very own forever home!

  74. Several years ago I was attacked by a cat sitting on my back patio fence. It was a long-haired, pretty cat with a collar and appeared well cared for. What followed I could not of dreamed. I held out my hand so it could sniff me, and once within about 4-5 inches, it lunged for my arm. I felt the entire weight of the cat pull my arm down as it sunk its teeth in my wrist and swing its body around so it was head down with its hind claws up toward my shoulder. I was totally shocked and confused. With my free arm I grabbed it around the nape. The whole attack was less than a minute, but I knew it was not good and I ran shaking and crying to the bathroom, washed both arms that were covered in scratches and poured peroxide over the bite.
    Within a couple of hours my arm began to swell and I called the doctor and an appointment was scheduled for the next day–after all, it was “just” a cat. Well, by the next morning I couldn’t make a fist and my arm was significantly swollen and was scary painful. My appointment wasn’t for several more hours so I called and said that I needed advice: “Should I go to the ER?”
    They saw me immediately. They cleaned the puncture wounds and I got a huge shot in my butt. The doctor drew around the infected area that now ran from my wrist to my elbow and said if the redness spread outside the lines within the next 12 hours to call him and get myself to the hospital.
    Luckily it didn’t spread outside the lines. Animal control placed a trap per city regulation, but the cat was never seen again. I have faint scars on both arms and two distinct scars where the cat sunk its teeth in my wrist.
    Who knew? I am grateful it was not my young daughter that went out there, or one of my other cats. It was a lesson learned. Even though I’m a true cat lover, I also know what those little 15 lb bodies are capable of.

    • I can’t believe your doctor didn’t tell you to go to the ER right away, Deborah. What a distressing experience – I’m glad you’re okay.

      • In retrospect that should have been everyone’s first response, mine included, but I probably didn’t adequately express the seriousness of the injury and was also guilty of thinking, “it’s just a cat bite”. Back before the Internet, there was no instant access to information and I defaulted to clean, medicate, wrap and move on. I know the doctor was surprised once he saw the damage and he told me that the delay could have led to a hospital stay and an orthopedic surgeon had I waited much longer. If the same thing had happened to my child I wouldn’t have thought twice and we’d have been at the ER in minutes. But because it was me, I neglected to use the same common sense. Lesson learned. : )

  75. GREAT article. Wish I saw this a while ago. Neighbor car bite me and hand exploded – tons of pain. Did research before I saw doc but should have gone right away. Found a good graphic on

    See doctor immediately!

  76. The only serious cat bite I have ever received was from my own cat Mickey. I was trying to unhook his claw from the mesh in his carrier (we were at the vet) and three times he put his mouth over my hand without biting to warn me. Three times I did not stop. He bit me pretty hard. I ended up going to the doctor the next day for antiobiotics.

    That being said, I work with feral cats a lot and have been bitten & bitten hard quite a few times. Never once did it turn into an infection. Hmmmm????? I wonder what that means

    • That’s what happens when you don’t listen to your cat, Michelle! 😉 I’m glad you were okay.

      Not every bite gets infected. It depends on how deep the wound is, whether you were able to flush out any bacteria right after being bitten, and also, the state of your own immune system at the time of the bite.

  77. An important takeaway from this article is to take your injury seriously…and insist that medical staff take it seriously, too!

    I attempted to pick up a stray one night because I mistook it for my neighbor’s cat. It bit my right wrist and scratched my mouth, actually tearing the tissue so that I still have a light scar on my upper lip.

    The ER staff didn’t believe me that I had been bitten by a cat. They thought that my “story” was a cover-up for a domestic violence incident. They just gave my wounds a cursory wash.

    A week later I flew home from California to Boston for a high school reunion, and when my stepmother saw me she said, “I don’t like the looks of that wound, I’m taking you to the ER right now.” After a thorough cleaning, and intravenous antibiotics, I ended up ultimately receiving the hand surgery mentioned in the article. I missed my reunion because of a cat bite sustained 3000 miles away!

    If I were bitten again – and it is reasonable to think I might be, since I handle cats a lot – I would be very bossy with medical staff about cleaning the wound properly and giving me antibiotics.

    • Doesn’t sound like the brightest ER staff if they couldn’t identify a bite wound, Gina! I’m glad you were okay, even if you had to miss your reunion.

  78. I have been bitten twice. Once by my own cat when he was attacking my other cat (it was just instinct to put my foot between them – OUCH!) Since I was home, I was able to wash it immediately and put hydrogen peroxide on it and later soaked it in baking soda a few times (per my sister-in-law). It healed fine.
    The 2nd time was when I was cat sitting an old and frail cat while giving him an appetite stimulant pill. I rinsed it in the sink, and looked to see if they had any hydrogen peroxide in the bathroom cabinet, but didn’t find any. I had more cat sitting rounds to do, so kept an eye on it. It started to get red all around it, so I went to the hospital. They gave me IV antibiotics 3 times twice a day, then pills. Because it was when I was cat sitting, when asked about the cat, I told the nurse it was my own cat, as I wasn’t sure what it would mean if I told them it was a cat I was pet sitting for.
    I worked with someone who got bit by a friend’s cat and had to have antibiotics by IV for days.

  79. Good info, Ingrid. Do you have a way for me to avoid getting love bites from Charlie? Sometimes when I pet his back while he’s lyig down and loving it, suddenly he will turn his head and bite my hand, gently but enough to draw blood. I tell him no biting and get up and leave him. No idea why he has started doing that after 7 years in my household. But I’m more careful petting him, I hold his head with one hand and stroke his back with the other. That seems to work but my confidence in him took a big hit. Any ideas? Anyone?

    • You’re going to want to watch Charlie’s body language very closely, Monica. Most cats will give subtle signs when they reach the “no petting” threshold: a twitch of the whiskers, ears slightly back, that sort of thing. At his age, it’s possibly that he’s starting to show signs of arthritis, and perhaps the area you’re petting are super sensitive? Here’s more on petting aggression in general:

  80. Great post Ingrid. I never knew that cat bites could be so bad till recently when I have had friends that had to go to a DR from being bit. Thank you for the post.

  81. I appreciate you posting this. I have a mean kitty, who I have had since he was a kitten. He has social deficits. He has scratched and bit me over the years. One specific time he bit quite deep and I did end up developing a bad infection. When I went to get it treated they doctor had to list it as a cat bite. They didn’t pursue it legally because the cat is mine. Over the years he has mellowed out. I have worked with him and he listens to me so he doesn’t bite me or anyone else. I know that if I got rid of him years ago, like people told me too, that he would have been put down and I didn’t want that to happen. I had a responsibility to him. He has all kinds of physical and behavior problems that I have dealt with since he was one years old. I am not the type of person that gives up easily and just discards a hard to manage animal. I will stick with them. It has been a joke that I have misfit animals, which I do. However, I will not give up on them, which I know others probably would. I believe that is one of my purposes on this earth. I have another kitty that recently started showing his love by biting me in the chin. He never bites that hard and it makes me feel good to know he loves me. He is my lover. He doesn’t like to fight or anything. He is very docile. If I could, I would love to be an animal whisperer.

    • i had a mean kitty 30 years ago. he was always biting and scratching but i wouldn’t trade him for the world. i now have a 4 year old female who isn’t exactly the cuddliest girl in the world and she bit be pretty good last night but like you, i feel they would be put down if i got rid of them. I just deal with it and realize “they” are the boss ! 🙂

  82. Very important article, Ingrid. Several years ago my cat, Pippen, unexpectedly scratched and bit me in the upper arm. The next day the arm looked like a baseball bat. My doctor wanted me to go to the hospital, but I asked her to give the usual antibiotics and Tetanus shot and, thankfully, that worked.

  83. After a lifetime of having and rescuing cats, I have a few (very few, actually) experiences with cat bites, all memorable. My first serious cat bite was in the late 1960s, from my own young Himalayan who was experiencing her first heat (I had planned to breed her when she was a little older). — evidently the hormones did not agree with her and when I picked her up she turned and sank her teeth into the fleshy part of my hand between the thumb and forefinger. I flushed it with water and drenched it with peroxide and thought nothing more about it. I went to work daily as a medical transcriptionist in a hospital pathology lab. After a couple of days it became hard to type because my hand throbbed but I kept working. The pathologist happened by my desk and noticed my arm which had developed a wide red streak running up from the wound towards my armpit. When I told him I was bitten by my cat, he asked if I was allergic to penicillin. I said no, so he wrote me a prescription and sent me straight to the hospital pharmacy to fill it. The pills worked quickly and that was the end of that infection. (I got the cat spayed and her sweet personality returned.)

    My second memorable cat bite was in the late 1970s, from a rescued mama cat who felt threatened by the cats OUTSIDE of the room she was in and turned her misplaced aggression to the calf of my leg as I was leaving the room. That was a deep bite. I washed it and flushed it, and would have gone to my doctor but she was out of town on vacation for the week. Within a few days, the pain told me that this too was infecting, so I went to a “doc in the box” clinic and again got a prescription for penicillin which worked very well.

    I do not recall any more memorable bites. The reason for that is that whenever I have gotten even a SMALL bite or even a scratch from a tooth, I start taking amoxicillin immediately and take it for five days. I have never had another infection from a cat bite in 40 years, and when bites or nips don’t infect, they don’t cause any pain and thus are not memorable. Everyone I know who works in rescue does the same thing.

  84. Very good article. I for one had no idea that a cat could inflict such damage. Two months ago today our two year old cat attacked me when I was trying to rescue our kitten. She had her leg caught and was crying loudly-the moment I touched her he sprang. All together he bit me seven times; he was like a wild animal, striking again and again. I was able to put a laundry basket in between us, and we circled the room for a few minutes. My hand was swollen almost instantly. By the time I got to the doctor, it hurt to move my fingers, and my arm was also swollen. He put me on antibiotics, gave me a tetanus shot, and a stern warning to watch for infection. I couldn’t work for a few days because of the risk of infection, and once I went back people kept asking what kind of accident I’d had-my arm was so bruised and swollen it looked like I’d been in a wreck.
    Emotional damage was done too…it was very difficult to let him get on the bed and sleep with us. All I can say is he is a very lucky black cat, because we love him so much. I think a lot of people would have given up on him at that point, but he is still a loved and cherished member of our household.

    • I’m glad you didn’t give up on your boy, Debbie. It’s devastating when your own cat turns on you and bites you so savagely, and the emotional damage, as you said, can linger. It helps to remember that in that moment when it happens, your cat is no longer your sweet pet cat. My guess is that your kitten’s screaming set off your older cat. It’s almost like a switch gets flipped when these things happen, and these formerly docile cats turn completely feral and wild.

  85. I don’t take cat bites lightly. I have heard about the serious potential consequences. I have been bitten twice this past year. I did not go to the doctor, however aggressively and conscienciously treated at home. After rinsing and promoting bleeding, I soaked immediately in epsom salts for 20 min and numerous times throughout the day, round the clock, and ensuing week. I applied triple antibiotic ointment, kept my hand clean, and kept a close eye on the bite area. I was very concerned about the bite. Use epsom salt hot soaks.

    My first bite was when my cat had a seizure on my hand and could not let go; it was horrible. The second bite was not bad. I was very frightened each time, having heard the stories about cat bites. They should be taken seriously. My bites eventually healed. The redness and swelling went away, but it did take awhile. If it happened again, I would also eat a lot of garlic, a mild antibiotic and tonic. These were my pet cats. If it was a stray cat, I would go to the doctor, but first would bleed and soak and use the triple antibiotic ointment, as you could sit in the ER for hours, delaying treatment. Everyone with a cat should know about cat bites; thanks for posting, Conscious Cat.

    • I’m glad your cat bites healed without any problems and without medical intervention, Mary. It sounds like you did all the right things.

      • Hello some street dog attack my kitten I tried to save her but unconsciously ketten bit on my thumb I let the blood discharge an wash nw there is no pain is it compulsory to visit doctor

        • I’m sorry about your kitten, Nisha. It’s always advised to get bite wounds looked at by a doctor.

  86. An excellent article about cat bites. May i also take this opportunity to also warn people to be wary of a more common thing than bites, namely cat claw scratches. I have my own cats plus i help at a cat rescue and the one thing i can guarantee is that i always end up with the odd scratch or two, mostly accidental.
    I mostly let them bleed out for a while before treating and covering them and generally i’ve had no problems. BUT i do keep an eye on them for any redness etc showing on the wound as once happened and i had to take a short course of antibiotics to cure it.
    Luckily here in the UK (apart from a couple of isolated pockets in Scotland in bats) we don’t have rabies so we don’t have to worry about that.

    • You’re right, Steven, scratches can be an issue, too, but generally don’t present as serious a problem as bites. Here’s more information on cat scratch disease:

  87. Something we don’t like to think about but the knowledge is so good to have.
    Thanks Ingrid!

  88. My dad’s co-worker was recently bitten by one of his cats and his hand turned red and got swollen. Luckily, he went right to the doctor and got antibiotics and proper treatment. The doctor told him it was the right thing to do!

  89. I have been seriously accidentally scratched by my male tomcat “Matata” on two occasions while separating him from a scuffle with his dam “Matahari” at home in Mumbai. On both occasions there was severe bleeding from the cut wound and i treated it with antiseptic and let nature take its course. Luckily everything turned normal after the minor scratch healed.

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