It is easy to tell if your cat bite is infected. The illustration below tells you. I am referring to a classic bacterial infection throughout this post.
You’ll see inflammation (redness in the skin) spreading out from the place where your cat bit you. It’ll start with a small area of inflammation around the bite marks after about 12 hours. The area of inflammation grows. You can check if it expanding by using a marker pen to mark out the initial area.
IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT TO ACT FAST IF THERE IS AN INFECTION. THE CURE IS SIMPLE: ANTIBIOTICS.
Studies found that up to 90% of domestic cats have the bacterium Pasteurella multocida in their mouths. The infection is caused by bacteria being ‘injected’ under your skin. Bacteria is killed by antibiotics. I have a page on the best antibiotics for cat bit infections (click this to read it). Make an urgent appointment with your doctor and take the antibiotics immediately per instructions. If you don’t act as I have described the inflammation will spread and the area might balloon up due to pus under the skin. At this point you may have to go to hospital for treatment. Note: rabies and tetanus are potentials too depending where you live.
THE KEY IS TO BE OBSERVANT AND TO ACT FAST WHEN YOU HAVE TO.
Not all bites cause infections. As a very rough estimate, based on personal experience, about one in fifty bites become infected. It has only happened once (badly) for me in decades of living with cats. But it depends on how people interact with their cat and the character of the cat. General principle to avoid bites: respect the cat.
I have written this out of my head without references to doctor sites because it is a straightforward subject. There’s no need for clever diagnoses or analysis in nearly all cases. However, there may be complications and a doctor’s diagnosis is advised as there may, for example, be need for rabies treatment in some countries. Certainly, in the US if you are bitten by an unowned cat, you’ll need to consider rabies treatment. Tetanus also may come into it.
P.S. Inflammation is technically a good thing as it is the inflow of more than the usual blood (containing white blood cells and antibodies) to the area to fight the pathogens injected into the hand by the cat bite.