How much damage could a domestic cat do to a human?

There are two ways to answer the question, (1) the physical damage that a domestic cat can cause to the human body and (2) the monetary damage a domestic cat can cause to a person’s wallet!

The second sort of damage came to me through the website as did the question in the title. One guy rather amusingly said that his domestic cats had caused him €5000 of damage to his apartment and a very nice apartment it is or was until his cats caused a leak. He returned to a catastrophe, a scene of devastation. He says that his cats must have pulled the hose from his washing machine while playing behind it. Do you believe that? Perhaps the hose was just loose and it finally came free. In any case it’s quite an amusing answer except for the pain of having to fork out €5,000 (damage to his wallet).

Man infected with rabies
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Omar Zouhri – the last photo. He died of rabies. Photo: Mirrorpix.

The question really is about the kind of damage a domestic cat can do to a person physically if they are aggressive towards that person. And the answer depends upon how the person responds to an attack by a domestic cat. In the very worst-case scenario, a person can be killed by a domestic cat if they are bitten and scratched for whatever reason and they ignore the bacterial infection which develops. The bacterial infection from a highly pathogenic bacteria known as Pasteurella multocida will get worse and worse and if the person is elderly they will probably end up in hospital where the chances of dying are already increased because hospitals are dangerous places being, as they are, subject to the whims and commitment of the medical staff. This has happened.

Woman pets stray cat causing rabies alert

Woman pets stray cat causing rabies alert. Area of bite. Pic in public domain.

In addition to the standard scratch or bite as described, in very rare cases a domestic cat may have rabies and transmit the disease to a person in a bite. This may well kill the person unless rapid and very expensive treatment is received (if they have not had the rabies jab).

How to prevent a cat bite from getting infected?

Leaving a bite without fairly quick antibiotic treatment can result in this. Picture in the public domain with words added.

In a far more typical case of a domestic cat attacking a person they will simply suffer a scratch or a small bite which will heal of its own accord. However, anyone bitten by a domestic cat should watch the place where they are bitten for an infection which will spread across the hand, arm or leg. If an infection is visible you have to take antibiotics quickly and depending upon the person and the nature of the bite it may take a long time to heal. In my view, these are quite rare occurrences because most of the time the body’s immune system will deal with the bacteria on its own without antibiotic intervention.

But importantly, it should be stressed that sometimes bites can become badly infected because the person is careless as mentioned. If the person is old, they may end up in hospital and they could at a stretch die because of a fairly innocuous bite.


Otherwise calm, nicely behaved domestic cats can attack when scared and defensively aggressive

Award-winning journalist badly hurt by a domestic cat she was rescuing

NEWS AND VIEWS: As I buy The Times daily, I know of Carol Midgely. As well as being a columnist ...
Dominant stare to prevent a tiger or lion attack

Lion and tiger can regard humans as dominant which is why staring into their eyes can stop an attack

Lion and tigers, the two biggest cats have the ability to regard humans as dominant if humans stare into their ...
How so women feel about beating a domestic cat in an unarmed fight?

69% of Americans think they can beat a house cat in an unarmed flight

69% of Americans, which I take to be an average between women and men, compared to 66% of Britons believe ...
Cat attacks his owner

Can a domestic cat kill a human?

As the word at the beginning of the question is "can" I can discuss it theoretically. Theoretically a domestic cat ...
Arguing women

Cat scratches woman’s face multiple times in row over infidelity

NEWS AND COMMENT-FLORIDA, USA: I don't have an awful lot on this story which is of interest to me because ...
Canada lynx

Do Canada lynx attack humans?

Canada lynx do not attack humans unless there are exceptional circumstances such as rabies or perhaps a pet Canada lynx ...
Mercy and one of her wounds

If my cat attacks someone, am I criminally responsible?

The answer to the question will depend on where you live because each country has their own animal and general ...
Woman attacked by captive cheetah

Do cheetahs kill people and could a person kill a cheetah?

Summary: the answer to the first part of the question in the title is yes, for captive cheetahs, but infinitesimally ...
Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.
Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

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