Major Online Newspaper Distorts Truth about Cat Bites

Beware internet newspapers as they can distort the truth. This is another case in point and it concerns the Daily Mail, a major UK newspaper reporting on cat bites. I’ll just stick to the central point and present the two versions.

cat bite

This is the truth

Over a three year period, 193 people presented themselves at the Mayo Clinic because of a cat bite to the hand. 57 of the 193 people were hospitalized, which represents 29.5%. Other areas of the body were excluded.

The point here is that we don’t know how many people who received a cat bite over that period dealt with it themselves and had no need to go to hospital. If this body of people is a high number, overall the percentage of people with a cat bite that have to be hospitalised will be vastly lower than the 29.5% as stated. In fact a US study concluded that 6% of people with a cat bite need to be hospitalised and this was an “estimate”. My estimate would be lower.

It could be argued that the Mayo study itself gives the wrong impression about cats and their potential danger to people because it is an exceedingly limited study.

See search results on PoC on “cat bites” – lots of articles (link opens a new window or tab)

This is the Daily Mail’s version

The reporter, Emma Innes, has misconstrued the Mayo Clinic report and sensationalised it and exaggerated it.

She writes that one third (33%) of all people who are bitten by a cat end up being hospitalised! That is a gross distortion of the truth on two levels that anyone can see. Firstly she represents the 193 people referred to as the entire population of the country (USA) who had received a cat bite and then ups the figure of 29.5% to 33%.

I’ll leave it at that because I don’t wish to complicate things. I’ll just add this:

  • 69% of the people 193 people referred to in the study were females with an average age of 49. This supports what we know that middle-aged women are probably involved with cats more than other people.
  • Cat bite puncture wounds can be serious because bacteria can be deposited under the skin and next to important bits of anatomy. Twenty percent of the people in the study who were hospitalised had surgery to clean out the wound.
  • All cat bites are the fault of the person as far I am concerned. It is in the hands (forgive the pun) of the person to read cat behaviour and the signs that indicate that she/he may be bitten and withdraw to avoid it happening.

Photo: Picture heading post: by cmerlo441 and published under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License.

Facebook Comments


Major Online Newspaper Distorts Truth about Cat Bites — 27 Comments

  1. My Persian cat Tabatha, scratched my hand and it became very swollen, and I needed to take anti-biotics. I would say you are more likely to get scratched than bitten. I have eight pussy cats at the moment and I am very rarely bitten hard or scratched.

    Kind regards

    Samantha Martin

    • Thanks Samantha. As Harvey states in his comment, the cat gets a bad press too often. It is because a segment of society don’t like cats or are scared of them. It is up to cat owners to avoid being scratched or bitten.

  2. Millions of people all over the world get bitten by mosquitoes and hundreds of thousands die of malaria and other diseases but that never makes headline news.

    • Spot on Harvey. It is sickening how the cat is misrepresented sometimes. The cat is either a good laugh on a stupid video or is a cold blooded killer of prey and dangerous to people. The media generally don’t do a good job of writing about the domestic cat in my opinion.

  3. This is such a joke to me.
    I have been bitten and pretty much torn up and have never needed medical attention but once. And, that was because I had to have a ring cut off of my finger to help with the healing of a bite wound. So many peple are such wimps (my opinion). At this moment, I have deep bite marks, turning bruised, on my left forearm from helping a cat get her head free from fencing. I didn’t have gloves with me at the time, and it was urgent.
    I bear scars everywhere, the worst being on my torso from the baby bobcat.
    I can’t believe that any insurance company would cover hospitalization for a cat bite.

    • I agree. It paints the wrong picture, even the Mayo Clinic study does because it only looks at a small segment of people. In itself it misrepresents the dangers from the cat and then a newspaper makes things even worse.

      I have never been bitten and only received minor scratches.

      • Bigfoot is a biter. It is probably why he was dumped on my street as an old cat. I don’t know why people don’t just get with the program and communicate with the cat. Bigfoot still has some secrets about why he bites, but I’m prepared for the most part and he seems to appreciate I didn’t allow him to make full contact. He taught me well. There has never been love lost between us.

        • Well said DW. I love your comment because even with a cat who bites more than usual (for some good reason we don’t understand at the moment) you use common sense to avoid it whenever possible. It is down to people.

    • You are my hero once again Dee. More poster material for Ruth.

      I always have a cat scratch on me. Always. And/or bites. Many scars from sweet Bigfoot. Marvin is a vigorous kneader. I try to be prepared, but sometimes not enough. When he quickly moves up towards my neck to give me a cat hug (sweetest hug in the world) he cannot help but dig those enormous claws into my skin. Ouch. No matter. He meant well.

        • I’m trying to picture, holding a 20 pound cat who has me captured, reaching for the ipad camera (no smarty phone) and manipulating the camera for a jointie…yep, I’ll be in the cat scratch article. He won’t mean to though.

    • You are a true cat lover Dee! Only a true cat lover would free a cat like you did knowing you were sure to be injured.
      You are one of the best cat caretakers I’ve ever had the privilege to meet.
      Have you ever told us about the bobcat? If so I must have missed it, what happened?

  4. Twice i got accidentally scratched by my tomcat matata while trying to separate a “Cat Fight” between him and his dam in my house.The entire episode is in the “” diary for the benefit of cat owners. I didn’t take any medical treatment although there was severe bleeding in both cases, the nail gash being deep.The deep gash healed on its own and everything was fine. As for cat bites, never in my life have been bitten by any cat, stray or pets.

    • Rudolph I think the occasion when you got scratched is one of those rare occasions when a person can get scratched by a cat no matter how careful and sensible they are because there’s a need for urgent action and the cats are fired up and emotional. Physical force is probably the only way which leaves the person exposed to an injury.

      • We are told we should never intervene in a cat fight, but it’s different if the cats are in danger of injuring each other, I’d do the same Rudolph if I couldn’t break them up any other way, even knowing I’d get scratched.
        If our boyz look as if might get serious I clap my hands and they give up, but I think it’s that they are glad to save face lol

        • I do exactly the same, Barbara.
          I clap my hands, and peace prevails again.
          There a few times that I have gotten out of bed and found tufts of hair around. So, there was an occurence while I was asleep.
          But, ofcourse, they look at me like little angels when I ask , “What the heck went on here?”

  5. The Daily Mail is known as The Daily Fail for many of its distorted reports!
    The press just love to write things to frighten people and often do it to give cats more bad press.
    If anyone gets a cat bite, it’s either from a frightened cat, a cat in pain, or because the person deserved the bite.
    Life is full of things that can hurt people, so what, we can’t be wrapped up in cotton wool and protected from everything.

      • There are still repercussions from the story they did about Cats Protection, they are biased and dangerous!
        They could have done CP a lot of harm but thankfully most people know not to believe all they read in that rubbishy newspaper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please only upload photos that are small in size of max 500px width and 50 KB size. Large images typical of most default settings on digital cameras may fail to upload. Thanks.