Categories: cat bite

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 Quora.com 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).

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. 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 the have not had the rabies jab).

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.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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