Due to the constant exposure to cats as pets, cat bites and scratches are considered as common injuries, particularly in children. When a child sustained a cat bite, the initial measure is to start with the safety of those who are involved including the victim, rescuer and if possible, even the cat.
There are certain steps to bear in mind while at home or wherever the cat bite or scratch occurred. Once these measures are carried out, it is still advisable to consult a doctor or bring the individual to the emergency department to determine if further treatment is necessary.
Always bear in mind that animal bites should be treatment properly and promptly due to the risk of infection that they carry. After cleaning the wound, a doctor should be consulted for further care.
How to deal with cat bites and scratches
- Always stay safe and secure the individual or the cat by moving them away from one another. In case the owner of the cat is around, ask him/her to secure the cat. If not, transfer the individual to a safe area. Remember that cats can bite or scratch if scared or if their kittens are threatened.
- Observe the universal safety and wear appropriate protective gear and equipment if available.
- If bleeding is present, you have to control it. Apply direct pressure over the wound using a clean cloth or gauze. Do not use a tourniquet unless the bleeding is severe and difficult to control.
- Once the bleeding stops, you have to clean the bite site using warm water and soap. Make sure that the inside of the wound is thoroughly cleaned and ensure that the soap is completely rinsed away or it will cause irritation.
- After cleaning the wound, wrap the bite site using a dry, clean dressing. You can apply an antibiotic ointment over the wound before it is covered. Take note that cat bites and scratches often develop infection. The indications of infection to watch out for include swelling, redness, warmth and oozing pus.
A doctor should be consulted after treating cat bites or scratches. In some cases, the wound might require stitches. Since most bites are often deep, the risk for infection is high.
If the cat bite or scratch was inflicted on the hands or face, it is recommended to consult a doctor as soon as possible due to the likelihood of scarring as well as loss of function if not treated right away.
Any unidentified cat or strays has the risk of carrying rabies. In case the cat that inflicted the bite or scratch could not be identified or the owner could not provide proof of rabies vaccination, the individual is required to seek medical care. Always bear in mind that rabies is always fatal to humans if not treated properly.